India has been grappling with the issue of street, homeless children and the ones living in slums since ages. Often, these children are deprived of fundamental rights and are vulnerable as well.
In 1994, 111 million children were living on the streets in India, according to a statement by UNICEF. The document gauged that Delhi alone had 100,000 street children. It further stated that approximately 314,700 children were living on the streets in other urban cities, such as Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Kanpur and Hyderabad.
The Census data of India (2011) shows 1.77 million homeless people. These constitute 41.7% of the total homeless children population in India and 12% of the total urban homeless children.
Despite the numbers, it isn’t easy to estimate the exact number of children on the street. That is because these children are invisible and many-a-times, not a part of any government system.
They are living in a difficult situation, have little or no access to a safe shelter, nutritious food, health care or education. Moreover, they are at high risk of being abused and exploited.
The National Crime Records Bureau data shows that the rates of crime against street children have increased from 21.1 lakhs in 2011 to 24 lakhs in 2015. From this, 34.4% of the crimes have been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) act.
The existence of street children is a combination of social and legal issues. Of course, the coordinated and concerted efforts of the Government, NGOs, corporate and individuals are making slight differences. However, the number is increasing at an alarming rate. Hence, the need for all the agencies mentioned above and their relentless, coordinated efforts will be essential and integral in helping these children out of miseries.