Living rough

Published April 13, 2024

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our attention. In fact, we have become so desensitised to the phenomenon of children living and working on the streets that they have come to represent ‘just another inconvenience’ of our daily lives. The International Day for Street Children was observed yesterday, and it is worth taking a moment to come to terms with the dimensions of this obscene crisis. Experts believe that anywhere between 1.5 to 2.5m Pakistani children can be categorised as ‘street children’ — those who either live on the streets of our cities or are forced to work on them. Multiple studies have reiterated that low income/ poverty is the primary reason why children are pushed to the streets and, disquietingly, it is usually the parents of these children doing the pushing. At the same time, it is also fairly common for ‘mentors’, to whom children may have been entrusted by their families, to be exploiting them for economic gain.

On the streets, these children face an extremely cruel life. Verbal abuse from the general public is the most common harm they face, and beatings and other forms of physical abuse can be routine. It has been well-documented that street children also suffer sexual abuse at the hands of paedophiles preying on their vulnerability. While many NGOs have been striving to alleviate the plight of street children, broader societal action is also needed. For example, we can demonstrate more compassion and empathy: even small acts of kindness can make a significant difference in these children’s lives. As we understand the relevance of the International Day for Street Children, we must pledge to not only acknowledge their existence but also work towards creating a society where no child is condemned to the streets and every child’s right to a safe, nurturing environment is upheld.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...