Monday, 25 October, 2021

Street children have no joy of life

Nat’l Street Children Day Today

Street children have no joy of life
A street child is seen busy cleaning a car with a hope to get some money from its owner. The photo was taken from the capital’s Bijoy Sarani area on Friday. —sun Photo

When Nadira, 7, sees a private car or microbus slowing down in Bijay Sarani intersection of the capital, she rushes towards it every time.

Holding a duster in her hand, she begins cleaning a car hoping that the car owner will provide her with some money.

After cleaning a car, she desperately tries to attract the attention of the privileged persons sitting inside. Often she does not get anything. Then she moves on to the next car.

When most parents are scared to let their children go out of their homes amid the coronavirus outbreak, her parents make her bound to work under the blazing sun throughout the day without wearing a mask or using hand sanitiser to ward off the killer virus.

The little amount of money she manages to earn everyday provides support for her five-member family -- consisting of her, her parents, younger brother and her grandmother.

According to Nadira, her father does not contribute to the family. He comes once in one or two weeks and seizes money from her mother.

If she does not give him money, he tortures her. Her luckless mother cannot run their family alone working as a maid in different households in the capital.

Yet, she can consider herself lucky as at least she gets her mother, grandmother and brother when she returns home.

Being orphaned and homeless, many street children live under the open sky without the guidance of any elderly member of the family.

Their parents give birth to them but do not take their responsibilities. Sometimes, they leave family for their multiple marriages.

Apart from this, many children choose a profession on the streets after getting migrated to the cities because of river erosion and landlessness.

In short, their poverty forces them to fight an impossible battle for survival.

Local Education and Economic Development Organisation (LEEDO) has been working with these street children for years.

Its Executive Director Farhad Hossain said, “The children under different voluntary organisations can somehow join the mainstream cycle of the society later. But stories of others are different.”

“Many of these street children die on the streets due to drug addiction. Some of them become the victims of trafficking. Traffickers sell their organs. And situation turns more critical for girl children. They are often tortured and forced to work as sex workers,” he added.

There is no survey on the number of street children in Bangladesh. It may vary from 2 to 2.5 million. At least 600,000 to 700,000 street children work in Dhaka and among them 50,000 live literally on the streets.

According to a report published by Social and Economics Enhancement Programme – SEEP, 44 percent street children are drug addicted, 41 percent have no bed to sleep, 40 percent cannot take bath, 35 percent practise open defection, 54 percent have none to look after them and 75 percent cannot visit a doctor if they are sick.

“A proper survey should be conducted to determine the number of street children in the country and  frame a policy to rehabilitate them realising their needs. There are some initiatives taken by a few individuals, private and government organisations which are inadequate and temporary,” said Emranul Huq Chowdhury, Chairperson of Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF).

“Until the responsible parents are not made accountable and a permanent system developed for street children they will continue to struggle. These children are different. Being deprived of the affection of their dear ones many of them are thrown into disorder,” he said.

“We need to understand their mental state as it is always difficult to handle them,” he said, adding that if they are taken care of, they also can reach their potentials.