A gift from the God is unsafe on Streets: Street Children in Pakistan

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The number of children found living, working and begging on Pakistan’s streets has been growing despite efforts to provide basic education and aid.

Every day, more than two million children roam the streets of Pakistan. In their struggle for survival they are on the verge of social exclusion. These children are exposed to the worst forms of labour exposing them to health hazards and multiple emotional traumas. A short report by Sustainable Development Television presented the heart-warming aspect of street life.

Keeping in mind, as the number of sexually abused children in Pakistan has risen in the past year according to a report by UN, local charities are calling from more efforts to protect vulnerable children .

An estimated 1.5 million children live on the streets of Pakistan, according to various numbers from government surveys and private organisations.

Rana Asif, who launched the NGO, Initiator, a decade ago to tackle this problem, said that inflation and refugee migration were the main contributing factors.

According to Initiator’s recent survey, 66 percent of street children are runaways who were forced to leave their homes after experiencing violence in household, workplace and educational institutions.

But the runaway children appear to be more vulnerable to abuse than before. The issue was highlighted in December 1999, when serial killer Javed Iqbal sent a letter to a newspaper confessing to the murders of 100 street children in the city of Lahore.

Iqbal committed suicide in prison before he was due to be hanged in front of the parents of the children he had murdered and sexually abused.

There are people such as Asif who want to help, but many others gain financially by keeping the children on the streets.

Asif told that in cities such as Karachi, mafia exploit the street children by forcing them into begging and stealing.

“We provide some education, training and Eid gifts for these street children but as the mafia sees them stepping away from begging and stealing, the children are swiftly transported to other parts of the country. Some are even smuggled abroad, mostly to Iran,” Asif said.

There is no law against internal trafficking in Pakistan, Asif said, as children from the north often end up in Pakistan’s metropolises. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

There is no law against internal trafficking in Pakistan, Asif said, as children from the north often end up in Pakistan’s metropolises. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

Despite the hardship, children working and earning a livelihood are content with life. “I’ve learnt how to work and I’m glad I don’t have to resort to begging on the streets or steal copper wire or side-view mirrors,” said Asfand. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

Despite the hardship, children working and earning a livelihood are content with life. “I’ve learnt how to work and I’m glad I don’t have to resort to begging on the streets or steal copper wire or side-view mirrors,” said Asfand. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

Only eight percent of children living on the streets in Pakistan are female. Most of them are picked up when they arrive on the streets and then sold off into prostitution for about Rs 25,000 each ($250). FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

Only eight percent of children living on the streets in Pakistan are female. Most of them are picked up when they arrive on the streets and then sold off into prostitution for about Rs 25,000 each ($250). FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

Street children are vulnerable to sexual abuse on a daily basis. More than 90 percent have been sexually assaulted and the biggest culprits are police officials, according to Asif. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

Street children are vulnerable to sexual abuse on a daily basis. More than 90 percent have been sexually assaulted and the biggest culprits are police officials, according to Asif. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

About 25,000 children daily defy the weather and physical restraints and wander on Karachi's roads to sell tissue papers, clean windscreens or just knock on car windows begging. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

About 25,000 children daily defy the weather and physical restraints and wander on Karachi’s roads to sell tissue papers, clean windscreens or just knock on car windows begging. FARAS GHANI/AL JAZEERA

 

In the recent years, Pakistan has seen a rise in the number of human rights activists and NGOs cropping up all over, to fight on behalf of the helpless, needy and voiceless. The NGOs have steadily made grounds in human rights and continue to empower those in need. Some of the following most notable NGOs work solely for protecting abused, abandoned and helpless children in need of shelter, home or even representation. Below is the complete list with addresses and phone numbers of prominent child protection NGO’s working in Pakistan.

Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child

Azaad – Street Children Resource Centre

 

Tel: +92 (021) 34820617

http://www.streetchildren.org.pk

Voice of Children

Voice of children

6-A, Block D-12,

G-8 Markaz, Islamabad.

Pakistan.

Phone: 051-2854838 & 051-2852503

Children First

House 79, Street 92, Sector I-8/4, Islamabad, Pakistan

Tel: +92 (0) 51-4861486

CHAEF- Children’s Health and Education Fund

F-2,Plot 17-C, 2nd Zamzama Commercial Lane,Phase-5,D.H.A,

Karachi,+92 300 820 2828

Field Offices: Lahore, Islamabad.

CCF- Child Care Foundation of Pakistan

A-6-A-E,105, New Super Town,

Defence Main Boulevard, Lahore

Tel: 042-3662-1031

AGHS Legal aid- Child Rights Unit

131-E/I, Gulberg-III, Lahore, Pakistan.

Phone: (92- 42) 35763234-35, 35710709

KONPAL Child Abuse Prevention Society

Address: House no. 4–N Block 6, PECHS, Karachi – 75400, Pakistan. Phone: (92-21) 3455-2220

Idara Aaghosh

682-Kamran Block,

Allama Iqbal Town ,

Lahore , Pakistan.

Telephone #:04235411426, 35411427

Children’s rights NGO. Work focus includes- Runaway/Missing children, child labour, runaways. Also has a free children legal aid cell.

Sahil

Office No 13, First Floor, Al-Babar Center,F-8 Markaz, Islamabad, Pakistan

Phone # (92-51) 2260636, 2856950

Alliance For the Rights of the Child(ARC)

F-178/3, Block 5, Kehkashan, Clifton, Karachi, Pakistan Phone: 92-021-5867300

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Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.

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