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Why Street Children Continue To Be ‘Invisible’ And How You Can Change That

Posted by Aishwarya Sandeep in #TheInvisibles
August 6, 2017
STC logoEditor’s Note: With #TheInvisibles, Youth Ki Awaaz and Save the Children India have joined hands to advocate for the rights of children in street situations in India. Share your stories of what you learned while interacting with street children, what authorities can do to ensure their rights are met, and how we can together fight child labour. Add a post today!

I am a lawyer by profession and I also work with a few NGOs. For this, I have to educate people about their rights.

During one of my lectures for a community, which comprised mainly of elderly women doing social work, I came across a very interesting situation.

One of the elderly ladies stood up and told the class that she wanted to share her experience of the law and the judiciary. She told us that whenever she would board the train from Virar station, she used to come across a few beggars with small children, who were always sleeping. After a few days, she decided to confront them as she felt that something was fishy. Subsequently, she decided to file a police complaint. She reported the case to the railway police station – and then forgot about the matter.

Days passed by – but she was frustrated that the police had not acted on her complaint. Finally, she decided that the police was corrupt and that this country would not change. Ever since, she has repeatedly narrated the same story to all the people she has met.

Then came the most interesting part of the conversation.

Annu Aunty: “This is the reason I say this entire country is corrupt. The police do not work without bribery…”

Me: “Aunty, do you have a copy of the complaint you filed with them?”

Annu Aunty: “What complaint copy?”

Me: “Aunty, when you said that you had filed a complaint, it means that you must have given them something in writing and they must have acknowledged it. Some paper work must also have been done. Do you remember the name of the inspector who was there?”

Annu Aunty: “No, beta. I just met a police constable, told him about this thing and went away. I never saw him again on that platform. I don’t understand about this complaint and all. I only talked to him and walked away.”

This lack of knowledge of legal procedures is the reason why complaints are not registered.

There are children who live with their families on the street. Some of these street children are ones who were kidnapped or sold for a very petty amount. Some of them are children of migrant workers, who are unaware of their surroundings and the situation they are in.

It should be noted that these children are vulnerable and can easily be influenced by criminals. They often get addicted to drugs and other vices, because of their vulnerability and hunger to satisfy physical and emotional needs. They also often become victims of prostitution or sexual abuse.

Many a times, these children are self-employed – they are rag pickers, errand boys for different shopkeepers or bootleggers, or are victims of child labour. They are subject to the worst kind of hardships that you can think of – from being underpaid to working for 16 hours per day under hazardous conditions.

If you come across any such case you would like to complain about, these are the following steps that you need to follow:-

1. Report to the nearest police station. File a proper complaint. The police and the judiciary do not work the way they are shown in movies. There is a procedure.

2. If you see a street child who has been forced into begging or is being trafficked, click a photo. But you should also intervene and make the necessary noise. Do remember that an offender is always scared of the mob. Many a times, these offenders traffic the children using public transport.

3. Get in touch with NGOs such as CHILDLINE, which deal with such cases.

Maybe your one voice may change someone’s life!


Image Source: Kalpak Pathak/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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