GOW reaches out to street children in India. These children may be homeless because the family is homeless through poverty or migration, or because they have been abandoned, orphaned, or have run away. It is not unusual to see whole families living on the sidewalks, or rows of individual children sleeping around the railway station.
These children live and work amidst trash, animals and open sewers. Only two in three Indian children have been vaccinated against TB, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio and Measles; only one in ten against Hepatitis B. Most street children have not been vaccinated at all. They usually cannot afford and do not trust doctors or medicine. If they receive any treatment at all, it will often be harmful, as with kids whose parents place scalding metal on their bellies as a remedy for persistent stomach pain.
A slum is a district of a city marked by poverty and inferior living conditions. Children in slum clusters live without a sense of security and stability. As their homes are mostly illegal, they may face home demolition by municipal authorities at any time. Families are then rehabilitated in remote places, severing them from social, economic, and educational lifelines that are so essential to their well being.
Most Indian street children work. A common job is rag picking, in which boys and girls as young as 6 years old sift through garbage in order to collect recyclable material. The children usually rise before dawn and carry their heavy load in a large bag over their shoulder. Ragpickers can be seen alongside pigs and dogs searching through trash heaps on their hands and knees. Other common jobs are the collecting of firewood, tending to animals, street vending, dyeing, begging, prostitution, and domestic labor.
Abuse in India includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse. The degree of the abuse, when in the person’s life it occurred, and its duration have varying levels of impact. Sometimes victims hide that they have been abused and may not reveal it until later.
Sex trafficking takes place all across India. According to the U.S. State Department, there are approximately 600,000 to 820,000 people trafficked a year across international borders, and up to 50 percent of those are children.
India is fast becoming a source, transit point, and destination for traffickers of women and children for sexual and non-sexual purposes. The areas of the greatest concern were poverty stricken areas such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, and West Bengal.