A peek into the lives of city's street children

Child Rights

As people across the globe mourn the deaths of at least 132 children of an Army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, it is worthwhile to discuss how the rights of one of the most vulnerable parts of society are trampled upon on a daily basis.

Metrolife spoke to some of the children who roam around the streets of Delhi without being noticed by the masses who are busy with their own lives.

Seven-year-old Bindiya, comes all the way from her home in Badarpur, to sell pens in posh Connaught Place market. “I want to study but school is not fun. On television, the classrooms are colourful and have paintings. The school I went to had bare walls. It used to be hot in summers and very cold in winters,” Bindiya said before being chased away by a local cop.

Many children in the main city come from the fringes of Delhi to sell or to beg. There are ofcourse some who end up in Delhi from the neighbouring states like 10-year-old Vishal. He waits near a dustbin where people come to throw the wrappings, paper bags and tissue papers after having a meal at the newly opened Burger King joint.

Tarun,10, busies himself selling cotton candy for his father in evenings and on weekends. “I am in 6th Standard and I love to study. I love sports also, but we only get time on Sundays or after school. But then if I play who will sell candy to children,” said Tarun.

Among the worst acts of repression and abuse that the young face include trafficking, forced beggary, child labour, sexual exploitation and domestic abuse and so on. Moreover, the fact the children become one of the first casualities in wars, riots and other acts of violence, has not made state entities to take stringent actions to ensure the well being of those who are unable to defend  themselves.  

While UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was not until 1989 that the global community adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the ChildEven though India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, the conditions that children of the country face continue to be grim.

A 2005 report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Action Research on Trafficking showed that in any given year, on an average, 44,000 children are reported missing all over India.

In 2011, a study done by Save the Children had revealed that there are over 50,000 street children in the Indian Capital itself. The study had further revealed that 20 per cent of the street children were involved in ragpicking, 15 per cent in street vending and begging and 18 per cent find work in roadside repair shops and eateries.

More recently, data obtained from all 11 districts of Delhi through Right to Information (RTI) filed by Nav Srishti NGO which partners with CRY, shows that 6,494 children went missing in 2013 alone, of which only 5,084 were fortunate enough to be reunited with their families and loved ones. What happened to those who weren’t found remains a pertinent question.

With so much distress surrounding these children, one would wonder if there is still hope. Rahul, (10), and Karan, (11), are an answer to that question. Both of them might polish shoes in the evenings, but they said that days are filled with lessons in science, their favourite subject. When asked what they want to become eventually, Rahul replied, “Teachers. We want to teach for free.”

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