Preeti Biswas,TNN | Jul 18, 2015
Poverty, Displacement Causing Many Children To Lead Vulnerable Lives, Reveals Report
HYDERABAD: The city of pearls has now got the dubious distinction of becoming a hub for migrant children living and working on the streets, making them increasingly vulnerable to a variety of risks.
There are an estimated 10,120 street children in the city, a report by Save the Children and Price Waterhouse Coopers revealed on Friday .Titled ‘Forgotten voices: The world of urban children in India’, the report also elaborated that 1,784 of the children begged on the streets, 4,593 were found working and 3,743 belonged to families dwelling on the streets.
Apart from Hyderabad, the survey was conducted in Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar and Jaipur as well. The number of street children in Kolkata was found to be double at 20,030.However, in Jaipur and Bhubaneshwar, the numbers were comparatively lesser at 4,469 and 3,533 respectively . The proportion of boys was highest in Jaipur at 80.7 per cent, while the proportion of girls was highest in Bhubaneswar at 39.2 per cent.
The survey , conducted in 2013-14, cited several reasons for homelessness. In Hyderabad, almost 37.4% children cited mobility of the entire family as the key reason for landing up on the streets. Similarly, 13.7% came in search of jobs and another 13.7% due to poverty and hunger.
“The traditional occupation of agriculture is not considered too profitable these days. The capital city provides more economic and livelihood opportunities as compared to rural hinterlands. Therefore, the landless poor migrate to these cities in search of livelihood opportunities,” said Devendra Tak, national manager for media and communication at Save the Children.
The study also found that many migrants arrive in the city due to displacement and lack of slum rehabilitation plans by the government.Standing testimony to this is the fact that almost 47.9% children in the city live in the open. Incidentally , many children also land up at railway stations for shelter and income.
“If I do not work, it will be hard for my family back home in Bihar to survive. My father is dead and my mother cannot raise my six siblings alone,” a 16-year-old at Secunderabad railway station was quoted in the report.
The lack of protection for street children has been captured starkly , as 39.8% faced threat at their sleeping place at night and 40.3% faced it at their workplace. “This boy who grew up with me tried to rape me while I was sleeping.He is a nice boy but was under the influence of alcohol. The police took him and thrashed him so hard he was unable to walk for a week,” quoted a 17-year-old-girl in Patancheru in the report.
If this was not enough, almost 37.4% street children in the city confessed to have had threat to lifelimbs. However, in Bhubaneshwar and in Jaipur, the threat was higher at 54.3% and 50.3% respectively. Almost 39.3% of street children in Kolkata were harassed by cops.
Hoping that the governments address this issue, Deepak Kapoor, PwC India chairman, stated, “These children are important stakeholders in the country’s development and the issues they face call for urgent attention from authorities.”