City faces alarming rise in addicts, juvenile beggars

City faces alarming rise in addicts, juvenile beggars

By SHAFI BALOCH July 3, 2008

KARACHI – Owing to the rampant unemployment of their parents due to off-fishing season, a number of fishermen’s children have started involving in begging and drug trafficking and this trend has resulted in a sharp rise in the number street children making their percentage up to 40 % in the metropolitan, said the President of Initiator Human Development Foundation (IHDF), Asif Rana Habib, while talking to The Nation here on Thursday.Rana said the unavailability of any alternative profession has led the minor boys to earn their bread by begging during the off-fishing season.He further revealed that condition of street children is worse that that of the refugees or prisoners in the country and there is no official record maintained by the government.He added that most of the street children living in all of the sixty katchchi abadies, including Machchar Colony, Butta Colony, Bangali Para, Teen Hatty, Ibrahim Hydri, Hundred Quarters of Orangi Town, Bilal Colony and others. There are around hundred hotels in the city where such children are seen waiting for someone to provide them food, he said.Rana strongly criticised the role of NGOs and said that there are fifteen centres set up for the rehabilitation of such children obtaining millions of rupees from the international donor agencies but they have failed to control the situation.He said that due to the negligence on the part of the government, such children are being exploited by different mafias, who use them for begging, drug trafficking and other illegal activities.Rana said that ninety percent of street children are users of different intoxicated items in which 74 per cent use glue and heroin. Another 43 per cent of the drug-user children are of ages under fifteen. He mentioned the several children have, so far, died while using these drugs.“Similarly, the children are also being used for drug peddling and are severely punished and sexually abused in case they refuse to do so”, he said.Rana lamented that there was no law for the rehabilitation of such children in Sindh while the Punjab government has taken the initiative to introduce a law in this regard. He said that rehabilitation centres have been set up for street children in twelve districts of Punjab but no initiative has been taken in Sindh so far. He said the recommendations in this regard had been given to the previous Sindh Chief Minister but he refused to legalise the matter.He also said that due to increase in the street children the street crime rate is on the rise day by day as a number of children are getting involved in drug trafficking and addiction in the city. He further said that more than 15,000 street children in Karachi alone are being used for sexual abuse.

Senate Body urges to protect “street Children” of the country

Senate Body urges to protect "street Children" of the country

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee has urged upon the Government to accord priority to the social sector of the society by improving the lot of the downtrodden, weak and vulnerable segments of society particularly women and children.

The Senate standing Committee met here on Monday in the Parliament House in the heading of Senator Mir Mohammad Naseer Mengal and stressed on a passionate plea for protecting the 1,50,000 ’street children’ all over the country as uncertainty related to their future stares them in the face.

The committee further directed the Ministry of Social Welfare to conduct a country wide survey for assessing the actual number of street children and later create arrangements for bringing them in to the Child Protections Center (CPC) for their comprehensive education and well being, so as to enable them to earn a decent living in future.

The Senate Committee further proposed to establish (CPC) in the four provinces of the country as the only one National Child Protection Center (CPC) working in Islamabad was insufficient to protect the ’street children’ of all over the country, as "these children were the future of the country and we cannot afford to neglect them".

The Committee further directed the Ministry to set up special counters in all District Headquarters Hospitals (DHQs) to facilitate the poor deserving patients with serious diseases by arranging free medicines, blood artificial limbs, clinical tests, etc and termed the present prevailing procedure of verification of data for such patients as being cumbersome and directed to simplified the system to get Zakat / Bait-ul-Mal funds swiftly.

The Senate body also took notice of the mismanagement and impropriety at the Tawana Pakistan Project (TPP) and constituted a sub committee to conduct a through probe into the matter.

Senators Shuja-ul-Mulk, Semeen Siddiqui, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Muhammad Anwar Baig, Khalid Soomro and Kulsoom Parveen besides Secretary Ministry of social Welfare attended the meeting.

Philanthropists urged to sustain foreign donor driven schemes for kids

 Philanthropists urged to sustain foreign donor driven schemes for kids
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Karachi: Specific priorities and policies of foreign donor agencies has jeopardised sustainability of no less than five different Drop in Centres (DICs) for street children, scattered in less privileged areas of Karachi.

This was highlighted at a session organised by Pakistan Voluntary Health and Nutrition Association (PAVHNA), a consortium of small community-based organisations (CBOs), actively engaged in rehabilitation of child labourers and street children.

Participants of the event comprising activists, representatives of donors and street children themselves were unanimous that local philanthropists, corporate sector and group of citizens sensitized enough about the plight of the vulnerable children, need to move in and support the critically needed facility.

They registered with deep concern that Karachi with no less than 17,000 street children is yet to have any government support system to protect them against their susceptibility to all kinds of violence and all sorts of abuse.

Activists said these kids were highly vulnerable to all forms of abuse, including sexual exploitation and addiction, therefore at high risk to contract HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C coupled with several other serious infections.

The scenario enhances urgency to see that efforts made to inculcate safe living skill through DICs are sustained on long-term basis.

Rehana Rashidi, Programme Director of PAVHNA, expressed her gratitude to Global Fund for Elimination of AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria (GFATM) and National AIDS Control Programme for their four year support for the project.

“At current point of time it is extremely difficult to communicate to the children that centres have to be closed in next three months time,” she said.

The project named as “Kirnay” that carved a niche for itself provided marginalised children, be they the scavengers, help at auto-workshops, street urchin, waiters at road side shops and hotels, apprentice at crafts centres etc, an opportunity to resume education, be conscious of their vulnerability and skills to protect against abuse, relevance of health and hygiene and healthy recreational opportunities.

“A positive change has been noticed in many of them showing improvement in decision-making such as change in profession, quitting drugs, developing healthy relations with family and friends and taking care of their health,” said Rehana Rashidi referring to frequent auditing of the project, initiated by third parties.

KIRNAY Project Manager, Anjum Shaikh, said an increased assertiveness regarding their rights by refusing abusers and demanding respect from others was quite visible and reflected revival of self-respect and self-esteem among the kids visiting DICs.

Anjum said the goal of KIRNAY project was and continues to be prevention of HIV from becoming concentrated epidemic in vulnerable population and spreading to general adult population.

These drop in centres were said to be functional in North Karachi, New Karachi, Landhi, Korangi and Malir.

Anjum Shaikh appealed to all the people to come forward and adopt these centres. She said the minimum cost of running each of these centres was estimated to be approximately Rs.150,000.

“Each of these centres cater around 3,000 children bringing the annual cost of saving a young life to a mere Rs 600,” she said.

The Project Manager said the number of indirect beneficiaries of these centres were atleast triple the actual beneficiaries.

Dr Huma Qureishi, GFATM’s Senior Programme Officer, to Pakistan urged the local philanthropists to help the kids in need of heir support.

She said that similar projects, owing to its success in Karachi, was planned to be replicated in Lahore and then at Multan with the support of Punjab AIDS Control Programme.

Chairman, Panjwani Trust and former provincial Minister for Women Development, Nadira Panjwani said committed NGOs as PAVHNA, working at grass root levels needed to be supported on strong grounds.

“Children be they the street kids or abandoned souls or those pushed before harsh realities of life due to poverty are our collective responsibility,” she said.

On the occasion children visiting different DICs managed by PAVHNA, little conscious about the fate of these facilities, narrated their personal experience and also attempted to entertain the guests through skits, qawwalis and tableau.

Handicrafts made by these kids were also on sale at the venue. A documentary film about the project was also screened on the occasion.

SPARC call for strict implementation of laws banning child labour

SPARC call for strict implementation of laws banning child labour
PESHAWAR, June 27 (APP): Regional Manager Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Jahanzeb Khan has said that the protection of children act 2005 should be passed by the National Assembly and enforced by the Federal and Provincial assemblies for the protection of street children He said that the NWFP Destitute and Neglected Children Act 2007 should be passed from the Provincial Assembly besides ensuring free compulsory and quality education to the children. Briefing media men here on Friday, Jahanzeb Khan demanded that a network of well maintained temporary and permanent shelter homes should be established through out the country and a strong referral system be developed at national, provincial and district level.

Regional Manager SPARC said that reunification services should be streamlined for the lost and runaway children besides strictly enforcing ILO worst forms of convention 182.

He said that coordination and cooperation with media should be strengthened to meet the desired objectives apart from properly highlighting the issue.

Ijaz Khan Protection Manager said that children on street are facing several protection risks like sexual abuse, drug addiction, and commercial and sexual exploitation.

Imran Takkar Project Coordinator Street children said that SPARC has established a Drop in Center for street children in October 2006 near General Bus Stand with an objective to provide free and protected environment from all kind of abuse and exploitation.

Mr. Takkar added that around 75 runaway children were reunified with their families after giving them psycho social counseling in Drop in Center.

Besides reunification, street children are being provided facilities of education, recreational facilities, skills and information about their rights and protection from abuse and exploitation.

Till date above 300 children had befitted from the Center, while daily average 30 to 35 street children visit the Center and are being provided the facilities of education, recreation, psycho social counseling and life skills, he added.

Religious scholar supports rehabilitation of street kids

Religious scholar supports rehabilitation of street kids

KARACHI, May 6 (APP): Known religious scholar Alsyed Abul Yosuf Hashim has urged ummah to realize its responsibility towards orphan and destitute children belonging to the muslim world.

In a meeting with Sahar Foundation Coordinator,Iftikhar Ghizali, the Kuwait based scholar said rehabilitation of street children and those with one or the other deformity needed special attention.

Alsyed Abul Yosuf Hashim said concerted efforts were required for wellbeing of the destitute children and that states need not to shrug-off its responsibility.

“This is a major challenge for the entire muslim world and all muslims including general population, philanthropists and government authorities need to develop close coordination,” he said.

The scholar appreciated Sahar Foundation for its efforts and said this was a precedence set by sufis and people who loved Allah Almighty and His creation.

Imran Ahmed, Syed Rafiq Shah, Sajid Kazmi and Inayatullah Qadri were also present on the occasion.

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.

25,000 street children vulnerable to diseases

25,000 street children vulnerable to diseases
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
By our correspondent

The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the occasion of the International Health Day organised a rally on Monday near the Mochi More, Korangi, urging the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to protect the increasing number of street children in the city from diseases and different forms of exploitation.

The walk organised by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) and Pakistan Voluntary Health and Nutrition Association (PAVHNA) titled “Every child has a right to good health” was largely attended by the street children, child activists, students and teachers.

They urged the government to create awareness on HIV and Aids and other sex related diseases to save street children.

Speakers said more than 25,000 children were living on streets in the city. They said there were some 70,000 children living on the streets in the country. An estimated 7,000 children live on the streets in Lahore, 10,000 in Faisalabad, 2,500 in Quetta, 3,000 in Rawalpindi and 5,000 in Peshawar.

Nazra Jahan of Sparc said street children were one of the most vulnerable groups for all forms of exploitation. They were at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS because of their early exposure to both heterosexual and homosexual practices.

Co-ordinator PAVHNA Ms Munizha said they were addressing the vulnerabilities of street children in the targeted areas. PAVHNA had set-up five drop-in centres (DICs) in Karachi, through which it provided information on better life skills to the street children.

HRCP terms 2007 ‘multi-crisis year’

HRCP terms 2007 ‘multi-crisis year’

* Terror-related deaths in Pakistan outnumbered those in Iraq
* HRCP notes 339 suicides

Staff Report

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Saturday termed the year 2007 a ‘multi-crisis year’, which had seen not only the worst forms of human rights violations, but also violations in almost every department and institution, be it economy, media, politics or judiciary.

HRCP Director IA Rehman told reporters at the launch of the organisation’s annual report – ‘State of Human Rights in 2007’ – at the Lahore Press Club that many reports had been received from various parts of Balochistan in 2007, claiming that parents or children had been left with no option but to sell their kidneys in order to feed their families, due to the ongoing crisis of armed conflict there.

Addressing the press conference, HRCP Chairwoman Asma Jahangir, IA Rehman, Secretary General Iqbal Haider revealed that more than 1.5 million people had been internally displaced due to ongoing military operations and armed conflicts across the country. It was also revealed that around 4,443,000 people were likely to be displaced by new development projects launched in 2007.

Crime surge: On the law and order situation in the country in 2007, the speakers said that according to the HRCP report, at least 927 people were killed in 71 suicide blasts, outnumbering Iraq, where a fully fledged war was going on. It said that in February 2007, the Interior Ministry acknowledged a 20 percent surge in crime countrywide from 2006.

The report said that due to the deposition of the entire judiciary, the first incident of its kind in the country, the courts and lawyers went on strike, resulting in more than 400,000 cases in the superior courts being dropped or delayed, adding that bail could not be provided to people on time. The Supreme Court had completed the hearing of a 2003 petition against the election of 68 legislators on certificates from religious seminaries, but the implementation of the state of emergency on November 3, 2007 had pre-empted a judgement. Furthermore, the SC found several top officials in the Islamabad administration guilty of gross incompetence and of physically assaulting on the chief justice, however, their jail terms were set-aside after November 3.

On missing people, the report said that before the November 3 judicial purge, the number of ‘missing’ persons had surged to over 400. However, 99 out of the 198 missing people on the HRCP’s list had been traced before November 3, although many of them were detained again on various charges.

On the death penalty, Asma Jehangir said that the number of executions or awarded death penalties in Pakistan were among some of the highest in the world. In 2007, 134 convicts were executed and 309 were awarded the death sentence, while, more than 7,000 prisoners remained on death row.

Regarding inhumane conditions in prisons, the report found that Pakistani jails housed 95,016 detainees against the authorised capacity of 40,825.

Asma said that due to the abolishment of the Statutory Bail System, prisoners had to serve at least 4-5 years even for minor crimes, while 67 percent of detainees across the country were awaiting trial.

On press and media freedom, the report said that Pakistan’s standing plummeted to 152 in rankings maintained by an international media watchdog. In the year 2007, at least seven journalists were killed, seventy-three injured mostly by police, and 250 reporters arrested for covering anti-government protests or demonstrating against media restrictions. It also said that another US-based media supervisory organisation included Pakistan among the 10 worst countries for press freedom.

Iqbal Haider said that during the previous regime of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the National Assembly had passed 134 ordinances, while even more were issued after the assembly was dissolved on November 3. He said that the new government should focus on legislation instead of issuing ordinances. He added that 88 of the National Assembly’s 342 members had resigned in protest against President Pervez Musharraf seeking re-election while still in uniform.

On women’s human right’s violations, the report said that the HRCP had recorded 1,202 killings, of which honour killings numbered 636. It also recorded 755 cases of sexual harassment – 377 victims were raped (166 minors) and 354 victims were gang-raped (92 minors), 736 kidnappings, 143 attacks by burning.

As far as children’s rights violations was concerned, the report said that at least 258 cases of rape and gang rape and 138 murders had been reported.

Even after the implementation of the Juvenile Justice System, 2,038 juveniles were in jail awaiting trial. The report added that child labour and trafficking remained rampant across the country, where an increasing number of street children were addicted to drugs with almost 83 percent of street children between the ages of 8 and 19 sniffing glue.

Financial constraints: The HRCP found unemployment and financial constraints led to 339 suicides and 189 attempted suicides.

It added that due to government’s negligence over deteriorating environmental conditions, more than 300,000 people had been displaced and more than 2.5 million others affected in 2007 following floods in Sindh and Balochistan.

Around 8,000 trees were uprooted for the construction of housing schemes and underpasses. In addition, as much as 99 percent of industrial effluent and 92 percent of urban wastewater was discharged into rivers and the sea.

Caring for children

Caring for children

Monday, January 28, 2008

The rise in incidents of street crime in Karachi and other cities of Pakistan has been the subject of a report released this week by a local NGO. What the report highlights is the growing number of street children involved in this activity. This is cause for alarm. There has been a significant rise in the number of street children, particularly in Karachi says the report adding that the reasons for children running away from their homes include domestic violence, sexual abuse and corporal punishment at schools, especially madressahs. This is an issue that has to be dealt in a proactive manner. It may be noted that street children end up joining gangs which offer them protection in return for working on the streets. The gangs force the children into prostitution and crime. There has been a rise in child prostitution in the cities as a consequence of this.

Also, incidents of petty crime have also risen as children are forced to beg, steal and borrow to retain their gang membership. Many of the children also turn to drugs and other substance abuse which only complicates the problem. The interesting thing in all this is the absence of any concerted government initiative to check this problem. Most of the work done here comes from individuals or from NGOs. They not only offer help and relief to street children but also counsel them and in some cases encourage them to return to their families so that they can lead a better life. There is an informal network in place which also helps trace missing children and unite them with their families. Despite its best efforts by the private sector, the challenge is much greater. The government needs to come up with a programme that recognizes the rights of the child and also protects children from harm. A child protection law exists only in Punjab while in the rest of the provinces it has yet to be introduced. There is no formal effort on the part of the government to recognize the problem and come up with an action plan so that the problems of street children are addressed. These children need to be given protection and put into a system that gives them some sort of education making them productive members of society. This will not only secure their future but also make the streets of the city safer for everyone.

Karachi’s ‘flowers of the street’

Karachi’s ‘flowers of the street’
From: AlJazeeraEnglish
Added: 12 January 2008
Thousands of homeless children are estimated to work on the streets of the Pakistani port city of Karachi, with a UN report indicating almost three quarters of them have no contact with their families.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports from Karachi, on the street children’s abandoned childhood.