An estimated number of 1.2 million children live out on the streets in various cities of Pakistan. These include children who work on the streets, the ones who return to their families at the end of every day as well as the ones who have run away from home. Increasing poverty and the breakdown in family structures has resulted in a rampant increase of children who end up on these streets. Most of these young boys and girls end up getting physically and sexually abused.
The phenomenon of street children is multifaceted. The combination of familial, economic, social, and political factors play an important role in this situation. It is therefore very difficult to single out one or more causes.
Various categories of street children exist. There are those who work on the streets as their only means of getting money, those who take refuge on the streets during the day but return to some form of family at night and those who permanently live on the street without a family network. All are at risk from abuse, exploitation and vigilante or police violence, but the most vulnerable are those who actually sleep and live on the streets, hiding under bridges, in gutters, in railway stations. While they may have small jobs such as shoe-shining or market-selling to pull through, many also end up dying on the pavement, victims of drugs, gang rivalry and disease. Without some form of basic education and economic training, the future is bleak for these street children and their life expectancy is terrifyingly low.
The problem of street children is dependent on their situation and not on their status. In fact, each child has a personal history with the street that cannot be generalized. Because of this, the care of street children must, to be effective, hinge on the different situations on the streets, in other words, on the many “child profiles”. It is important to analyze the relationship a child has with the street.
In order to better understand children living and growing up on the streets, it is essential both to make them participate, and to put them in contact with key institutions or individuals looking to understand the structural causes of their situation.
Whenever you see a child on the street, instead of rude and ignorant behavior, offer to buy them food or water or maybe just look at them. If nothing, the least we can do is not flash our pricey iPhones in their faces, only the cover of which could buy them a meal for five days straight. Just a tip for a better Pakistan.