- Spotlight on Street children provided by Save the Children’s study across 10 cities
- · Access to Shelter is a major challenge – Around 61% boys and 47% girls living on the street do not have a permanent place to sleep
Lucknow: Nearly 83.7% children working on the street slept on the same site, followed by children whose families lived on the streets (72.1%) and children living on the street (41.4%), revealed ‘Spotlight on Invisibles’, revealed a mapping study by Save the Children, an independent child rights organisation. At the state level,
West Bengal had the highest number of children (97.1%) sleeping in the place of their work, whereas, in Delhi the place of sleep kept changing with only 29.1% sleeping at the same place. The study was launched by Sanyukta Bhatia, (Mayor of Lucknow) in the presence of BidishaPillai (CEO Save the Children), Ramesh Negi (Chairperson Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights), MsPreetiVermaPanday, (Member UP SCPCR), Sunil Prasad (Astt Director, UIDAI GoI and JaminE Deputy Director UIDAI UP) along with CWC Members from Maharashtra, West Bengal, New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, and govt officials from WCD, UIDAI and MahilaKalyan.
The objective of the study was to assess the socio-economic and related conditions of children living in street situations and help mainstream them. The study carried out a complete enumeration of the children in street situations in 10 cities (Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Mughal Sarai, Mumbai, Nashik, Pune and Kolkata) through a census survey. The report examines the status of children in street situations in terms of their possession of legal identity and their access to various social security schemes.
Children in street situations are a common sight in urban India. They are one of the most underprivileged and vulnerable groups with limited access to protection, education, healthcare and adult supervision. Despite being frequently seen in cities around the country, there is negligible data on actual numbers of children in street situations in India as they are neither covered in Census or in any other national-level surveys. As per Census 2011, the homeless population in the country is estimated to be 0.15% (1.77 million) of the total population.
Save the Children CEO, BidishaPillai said, “The importance of reliable data on children living in street situation is key to help in their rehabilitation process. One of the biggest challenges we face with children in street situations is the absence of data on who these children are, where they live, what they do. This study is an attempt to bridge this gap of reliable data.”
On the occasion the Mayor of Lucknow, Sanyukta Bhatia who was the chief guest at the launch of the report added that,” All agencies working in the field of child rights should work in convergence with a time bound approach. The Government needs support and feedback from organisations working in this field every last child should achieve his/her rights and government and NGOs are working together for this noble cause. Lucknow Municipal Corporation is always there to provide all possible support.”
The study also said that around 61% boys and 47% girls living on the street did not have a permanent place tosleep.Among children in the age group of 10-14 years, around 15% were not aware about theirbirth place. Regarding the reasons for sleeping at different places, majority stated that they have no reason for shifting (31.6%) which was followed by objection from police (24.9%).
Approximately 25% children were involved in begging or rag-picking, of which, majority were young children (below 14 years of age) and about 36.4% children were not engaged in any specific economic activity.Nearly 42.5% and 38.7% children who were engaged in begging and rag pickingrespectively found work by themselves. However, more than 30% of those engaged inselling items on the road, working on road side stall / repair shop and working in smallrestaurants got the job through relatives and family.
Majority of children (47.3%) work for 4 to 6 hours, however, girls worked for longer hours. Nearly 46% of the children involved in begging and 54% in rag-picking worked for approximately 6 hours. Around 13% children engaged in any kind of work/occupationand 16% children working in construction worked for more than 8 hours.
Overall, 47% children were earning an average income of less than Rs.100 per day.The report also stated that about 62% children in age group of 10-14 years were not attending school because they could not afford the fees. Nearly 62% of children working on the streets and 57.9% children whose families are on the street primarily dropped out due to high fees, however, in both these groups, 25% shared that they were not willing to send their children to school.
None of the national-level policies, laws and programmes address their cause. However, children in street situations in India are included under the category of “vulnerable groups in need of care and protection”, such as those engaged in child labour or those out of school, therefore, there is lack of direct attention and focused interventions towards their well-being.