Plight of street children worsens

Plight of street children worsens
Saturday, April 26, 2008; Posted: 12:38 AM

Apr 25, 2008 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) — — The problem of street children is getting worse in the metropolis as they are fast falling victims to violence, maltreatment and insecurity. The Sindh government has not taken any initiative to control the alarming situation, informed a study report of Initiator Human Development Foundation (IHDF) on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club, Rana Asif Habib along with Amir Murtaza and other officer-bearers, said the IHDF has conducted a research to explore the causes and consequences of physical, sexual and emotional violence against street children; contribution of violence in a childs decision to leave the family and home; elements that perpetuate violence and relationship between norms and violence against street children in Karachi.

He informed that 200 samples, regarding the research data, were collected from different areas such as Karachi Cant Railway Station, Kharadar, Abdullah Shah Gazi Shrine, Mazar-e-Quaid, Jamia Cloth Market, Jahangir Park Saddar, Burns Road, Passport Office Saddar, Hussainabad, Hasan Square, Tariq Road, Quaidabad, Korangi and NIPA Chowrangi.

The report indicated that street children are the victims of unplanned economic growth, war, poverty, domestic violence and the violence at schools and madrassas, he said.

It was mentioned that majority of street children are in the age of 13 to 18 years (79.03%) followed by those in the age group of 9 to 12 years (15.22%) and up to 8 years old (5.71%). Most of them belong to Punjabi community followed by Urdu, Pashto, Burmese and Bengalese. The research revealed that majority of street children is either orphans or affectees of broken families.

Conversely, the research results showed that almost 70% children have their parents alive while 14% have single father and 6% have single mother. Only 10% of the respondents informed that neither of their parents is alive. Most of the street children come from a large family as 40% of respondents have 10 or more family members while 38.6% have 6 to 10 family members.

The research report is categorised into two categories, violence at home & violence at streets. As many as 88% of the respondents admitted the occurrence of violence at home followed by 5% in negative and 7%dont know. At home, father was considered as the main perpetrator of violence (50%) followed by mother (20%), step-parents 15% and brother 10%.

Interestingly, besides physical violence, majority of street children also complained the occurrence of emotional violence. Among the respondents, 86% informed frequent occurrence of mental violence at their homes. Contrary to the identified perpetrator of physical violence, the emotional violence is largely committed by parents or close relatives.

A large number of respondents (86%) informed that they faced emotional violence at any stage of their lives on the streets, while 9% denied any emotional violence and 5% didnt have any idea about the violence.

Majority of street children use drugs as 92% of them admitted that they use various kinds of drugs however 8% denied any use of drugs at any stage of their lives. About 75% of the respondents admitted that they smoke cigarettes, 70% use charas, 66% inhale glue and I5% use heroine. After having drug a majority of 66% respondents admitted experiencing violence.

Results showed that these children become very vulnerable after watching violent and pornographic movies. Around 70% of the respondents admitted the occurrence of violence after watching action movies while 20% denied that and 10% didnt have any idea about that phenomenon. Similarly, 60% of the respondents admitted any sexual act or experienced sexual violence after watching pornographic movies while 30% completely denied that and 10% informed that they dont have any idea about it.

Depression is very common among street children and, while talking about the high occurrence of physical, emotional and sexual violence, 66% of the respondents admitted that they self-inflected themselves while 26% denied and 8% didnt give any response. About 85% cut with blades and knives while 15% burn themselves.

The organisation has recommended effective and immediate government measures to improve the lot of the street children. However, the NGOs and advocates of child rights should make a child protection committee, it proposed. Potentially vulnerable children also need orientation on child rights and domestic legislation while NGOs should organise campaigns to make street children aware about JJSO 2000 as well as the institutional donors and NGOs should initiate projects on capacity building of police officials on child rights, the report concluded.

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