Street connected children are among the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in the society. They are exposed to many threats and dangers including child labour, child trafficking, sexual abuse, extreme poverty, physical and mental abuse, and homelessness.
A Census of India carried out in 2011 found that the total number of children under the age of 18 involved in child labour is 23.8 million. 10.1 million of these children were aged up to 14. Perhaps the scariest statistics is that children up to 18 years old make up 5 per cent of the country’s total workforce.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, all children are born with fundamental rights:
- Right to Survival – to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality
- Right to Development – to education, care, leisure, recreation, cultural activities
- Right to Protection – from exploitation, abuse, neglect
- Right to Participation – to expression, information, thought, religion
Unfortunately millions of children around the world are still being denied access to their basic rights. This situation is a key reason why NGOs like CHETNA continue to be necessary to provide essential services, like Contact Points, in response to the direct needs of street connected children, and to give them opportunities to advocate and improve the implementation of the vital laws that ensure their rights.