Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

Published reports & articles [continued]                                       


ARCHIVES   [Part 1 of 2]

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in India.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.


CHILDLINE - Toll Free Call 1098 - Night & Day

[accessed 12 August 2014]

CHILDLINE reaches out to all children in need of care and protection such as: street children, child labourers, children who have been abused, child victims of flesh trade, differently-abled children, child addicts, children in conflict with the law, children in institutions, mentally challenged children, HIV/AIDs infected children, children affected by conflict and disaster, child political refugees, children whose families are in crises.

Delhi Govt. Started the toll free 'Youth Phone service’  1-800-11-6888

The Government of Delhi running the 'youth' helpline named Yuva Phone line in Delhi. The counselors are available round the clock on toll free no 1800116888.  The helpline is specially for students.

24-hour children's helpdesk at CMBT

The Hindu, Tamil Nadu - Chennai, Mar 22, 2007

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

The Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) and Childline has set up a 24-hour helpdesk for children in the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) complex.  "Since last April, we have rescued about 100 children from the CMBT. Some have run away from home, while others are being brought to work in the city," said S. A. Jayamary, Street Children Project Officer, ICCW, Tamil Nadu.  The helpdesk, inaugurated on Wednesday, seeks to strengthen the rescue efforts at the point of the children's entry into the city.

Helplines for children are 1098 and 26260097.

Website to track missing children launched

Anasuya Menon, The Hindu, Coimbatore, Feb 10, 2007

[accessed 10 February 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

Anyone who has lost their child can post a message on this website and a search will be set in motion simultaneously in 40 cities in the country.  Launched by Don Bosco National Forum for Youth at Risk in association with UNICEF, will be closely watched and monitored by child welfare organisations in all major cities in the country and a search will be generated immediately. The Don Bosco National Forum for Youth at Risk is a major partner of Childline India Foundation and extends service to hundreds of children who are victims of war, conflict, natural calamities, sexual exploitation, trafficking and HIV/AIDS. They also take care of street and working children.

National Center For Missing Children India

[accessed 24 May 2011]

National Center For Missing Children (NCMC) is a non-political, non-profit making and a non-governmental organization offering the services free of charge.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 10 February 2011]

[2032] Children work on the streets doing odd jobs, as rag dealers, shoe shiners and vendors.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 26 February 2004

[accessed 10 February 2011]

[76] The Committee welcomes the existence of the Integrated Program for Street Children but remains concerned at the growing number of street children in the State party, due notably to the structural situation of the State party as well as to the lack of proactive policies and programs of prevention and for the support of the family.

The brave tender souls

Experience by Salman Nizami, Greater Kashmir, 28 October 2010

[accessed Oct. 29, 2010]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

The weather has suddenly turned colder in valley. The sun is hidden behind the clouds and the jagged peaks of the mountains which overlook the city are thick with snow. The street children are sheltering from the chill - huddling in doorways. One boy I often see in the morning charging around near the guest house in Shalimar where I was stayed covers his head with his ragged and blackened jacket to give himself some relief from the cold. There are numerous children who wait outside the guest house hoping for some work with me on the laptop, According to them working on laptop means earning good money. Most of them are contract labourers, shoe shiners, handicraft, fruit, vegetable vendor boys and I have got to know a number of them.

There is Ibrahim whose serious face contrasts with his pink Mickey Mouse baseball cap, and Irfaan who is painfully thin, and constantly asks the same question: "Mister, how are you?" And then there is Wajid, with his brown curly mop of hair and cheeky smile. My favourite is Aabid, a shy boy, who talks slowly in Kashmiri language. His sombre expression belies his young age just 13. They all have similar tales, a father dead due to the Kashmir conflict, numerous brothers and sisters, and a family dependent on their meagre earnings for their daily bread.

Streetkids in grip of STDs

Times News Network (The Times of India) TNN, Kolkata, Oct 19, 2010

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Did you know that almost every child living on the city's pavements is subjected to sexual abuse? If this doesn't surprise you, you should know that of these children a vast majority has contracted sexually transmitted diseases?    A recently-concluded survey among streetchildren in certain parts of the city show that at least 15,000 of them are either HIV positive or have contracted sexually transmitted diseases like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, warts, hepatitis and herpes. The survey was recently conducted by the National Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases (Niced) along with Unicef, a number of NGOs who have been working with street children. The survey was conducted in 54 wards of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.    According to the report, a copy of which is to be sent to the ministry of health, most of the kids in question are between 18 months and 14 years of age. While only 15,000 have already contracted infections, almost every street child that the survey team came across during the survey, has been exposed to sexual abuse.

"The youngest are the worst off. Kids as young as six to eight years old are forced to have sex night after night for a paltry sum of Rs 50! Of this they have to give up Rs 40," revealed Goutam Panja, spokesperson of the NGO, Network Positive. About 30 kids between 18 months and 14 years of age who are affected by sexual diseases have enrolled in this NGO as members.   The survey found that at least 80% of the affected kids are orphans who have left their original "homes" to migrate elsewhere and are working as child labourers. "Their right to work is attached with their willingness to offer themselves for sexual abuse by employers and sometimes even by clients'.

Hidden hunger

Harsh Mander, The Hindu, Apr 19, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

SACRIFICING EVERYTHING ELSE - If they still manage to eat nutritious food, it is to the sacrifice of almost everything else. In Patna, we met Deepak studying under a street light. He is the 10-year-old son of a rickshaw-puller, who lives with his father on the pavement. His father wanted him to become a “sahib”, and therefore brought him to study in a school in the city, instead of leaving him in his village with his mother. He is a caring father, who spends a great deal of what he earns to feed his son well. He buys for him every night a packet of biscuits for three rupees. This is his breakfast the next morning. Later the boy eats roti with vegetables bought from a roadside hotel, and a small cup of milk. Ganesh, Deepak’s father says, “Even if I don’t eat, I buy a cup of milk for my Deepak everyday.” In school, there is khichri or gruel in the State financed midday meal. Ganesh buys an egg for Deepak once in few days.

Indian street urchin bank weathers global crisis

Frederic Spohr, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (German Press Agency) DPA, New Delhi, Mar 20, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Bank manager Sudhir has never heard of credit derivates and has no clue about investment funds. He is just about capable of doing basic arithmetic and calculating interest rates.   But while his counterparts in posh Western office towers worry about gaping holes in their balance sheets, the 13-year-old's business is going strong.    Still, the bank's staff and customers are far from free of fear of losing their livelihoods. They are street children in India's capital, New Delhi.

The Wild Dogged ones

Samarth Pathak, Hardnews, Delhi, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

An important aspect of street life is that most of these kids are in the dawn of puberty. For them, the mix of testosteronic rush and freedom is the gateway to all kinds of ‘experiments'. Very early in life, these kids develop a serious dependence on drugs. It is whiteners and glues for the fattoos (who are beginners, usually aged between 8 to 10 years) while the dadas (or pros, aged 12 to 16 years) do ganja (marijuana) and charas. "A street kid, on an average, earns about Rs 70-80 a day. Out of this, Rs 30 goes in procuring drugs. One may not get food to eat, but a day without drugs is impossible. Drug peddlers and addas operate openly in the bylanes of Paharganj and Jama Masjid right under the nose of the police," says Javed.

Besides drugs, sex is rampant. Young boys and girls become intimate after facing struggles together and fall in love. This fondness usually leads to sexual encounters among children. Homosexuality is common, and it is the younger kids of the lot who end up being exploited by their gang leaders, pimps, local goons and cops. "Usually, the kids indulge in unprotected intercourse, which leaves them vulnerable to all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. Pregnancies in adolescent girls are routine. They either deliver the babies and run or lose their life in the process," says Shekhar.

Street children usually live in groups, and operate as one unit in their areas. At the New Delhi railway station, territories are specifically divided among numerous gangs, with each gang ‘owning' one platform. Every group consists of 10-14 members, and the eldest of the lot (and the strongest) is the undisputed leader. Boundaries are meant to be respected, and no trespassing is tolerated. Fights break out often, especially over food and money.

Still, in the midst of the hardships, friendship blooms. No street kid eats alone. Food is shared between all members of the group, even if it means sharing a single loaf of bread among eight of them. Anil recounts, "Once, one of my friends told us that there was a wedding near Ajmeri Gate. So we all quietly gate-crashed and gorged on chicken and biryani. When the guards came, we all grabbed whatever was around and managed to bring back some food for the others too."

Save the Children in India CEO Tells the Truth About "Slumdog Millionaire" and Child Poverty

Thomson Reuters Foundation, March 11, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Q. Save the Children is active in Delhi, the nation's capital. How many children live in poverty in that city?

A. It's hard to have a precise figure but thousands of children live in slums that lack the most basic of amenities such as drainage, water supply, sanitation. And there is no infrastructure worth the name. After Slumdog Millionaire there has been much talk in the Western media about the life of children living in slums in Mumbai but one cannot ignore the reality elsewhere in the country: Millions of children across towns and cities in India have no access to education and health care and live in deplorable conditions in slums.

Squalor's children honour slum gods

Rhys Blakely, The Australian, 24 February 2009

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 24 May 2011]

One of the main reservations this young audience has about the film's accuracy concerns its depiction of the gang master who rounds up children to set them begging and mutilates them to make a bigger profit.

"It doesn't happen like that," says Vipin, who claims to be 14. "Most of the beggars stay with their families. Their mothers and fathers are in charge."

The children say that nobody in their neighbourhood has been mutilated deliberately, similar to the fictional youngster who isblinded in Slumdog, but they believe thatsuch atrocities do happen elsewhere inMumbai.

Among Chowpatty's child beggars, the physical scars are more subtle but no less invidious than those depicted in the film: the small babies who are carried alongside busy roads by young girl beggars (a practice alluded to in Slumdog) quickly develop acute respiratory problems and many are malnourished. Ailments such as scabies, tuberculosis and rickets are common. Health workers who deal with street families regularly see babies whose skulls have not formed properly because of calcium deficiencies.

Virtually everyone in the audience has been chased and beaten by the police, the scenario that forms the backdrop to the film's opening credits. Asked if they find the film insulting, the children reply with a bemused "no". It shows real things, they reiterate: poverty, prostitution, murder, theft, blackmail, religious violence, the exploitation of the weak. It's good for outsiders to see how they exist.

Surviving on a little luck and lots of street smarts

Mark Magnier, The Los Angeles Times, New Delhi, February 21, 2009,0,1071590.story

[accessed 24 May 2011]

CAMARADERIE - Sahni joined three other homeless boys, sleeping under a stairway on Platform 12 or on the roof of a kiosk on Platform 5 as streams of people rushed past to their families, weddings, business meetings. Despite occasional bouts of homesickness, he felt great freedom in living on the street.   "It was fun," he said with a laugh. "Really fun."   The four boys didn't pool what they earned scavenging, selling the items at dingy recycling stalls near the station. But working in a pack prevented other ragpickers from muscling in on their turf. On a good day he made $6. But $2 was more typical.   Some of their best hauls came from the long-distance trains arriving on Platform 1, which had better-quality refuse. They'd scoop up anything of value, including the railroad's metal trays, before cleaners or railway police chased them away. Twice Sahni was badly beaten by police, who tended to catch the slow, weak and inexperienced. After that he was more vigilant.

Love and longing on the streets

Harsh Mander, The Hindu, Feb 08, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

LASTING RELATIONSHIPS - For those without a family — either in the village or on the streets — new bonds often grow on the streets between strangers, which may prove closer and more loyal than many ties of blood. As many as a quarter of the homeless people we met said they shared their life on the streets with adopted relatives.

I recall a street boy who adopted a disabled old man as his grandfather: he would carry him long distance on his back, and for years save from his own earnings in rag-picking for food, medicines and even the old man’s addictions.

A mentally ill woman occupied the same space on the pavement outside New Delhi railway station for years, but would eat only if one particular street boy would bring her food, and the boy, himself less than 10 years old, made it a point to share his earnings buying food for her everyday.

SHARING TO SURVIVE - Street boys, cut off from their families in their village and alone in the city, tend to live in gangs, sharing everything — food, clothes, intoxicants, sleeping under the same sheet — teaching each other trades like rag-picking and recycling drinking water bottles, protecting each other from street violence and the police, and feeding each other in sickness.

Cops are villains who make our lives miserable: Street children

Poonam Aggarwal, NDTV New Delhi, February 04, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Each one them said that policemen are here to harass them, and that they are not saviours rather villains who make their lives miserable.   Eight-year-old Kanchan, who begs near one of the temples in the locality and earns Rs 50-150 a day, was beaten up by the police four months ago.  

The stories of these street children find resonance with the brutal beating of a the girl in Etawah on Tuesday.   "One policeman gave me Rs 100 and told me to come with him. I refused as I knew that his intentions were bad," said Suman, a street kid.

Slumdog-type tales of hope in Delhi too

Ambika Pandit, Times News Network (The Times of India) TNN, New Delhi, Jan 27, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

The triumph of human spirit that has made `Slumdog Millionaire' speak in a universal language to a global audience is not just a celluloid fantasy. Even as you read this and the film gathers critical and popular acclaim, many people are trying to claw their way up from grinding poverty to give themselves an identity.

There's Vicky Roy, 21 a one-time ragpicker who is now an accomplished photographer wowing international audiences. Next month, Vicky will be flying to New York for a six-month photo assignment, recording the reconstruction of the World Trade Center. He will also study at the Visual Arts Institute in that city.

Then, there's Sanjay Malhotra, 25, who has gone from being a street bully outside the Sai Baba Temple on Lodhi Road to an activist working for rehabilitating street children. In fact, he identifies with the character of Salim in the film.

Similary, 18-year-old Rani who sold knick-knacks at the Kalkaji Temple was saved from marriage with a 28-year-old man at the age of 14. Today, she leads a 5,000-strong group of street children. Just two days back, she got an award for her endeavour as part of Clean India campaign in Hyderabad.

Plastic banned, street kids hit bull’s eye with jute bags

Neha Sinha, The Indian Express News Service, New Delhi, Jan 27, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

In 2004, a group of street children and ragpickers got together to make bags from scrap cloth and jute. Now, following a ban on plastic bags, the jute bags made by their organisation Lakhshya Badhte Kadam might just have hit the bull’s eye.   Ramesh, from the organisation, says the first orders have begun trickling in. “We have received requests to make cheap jute bags and newspaper bags for shopkeepers in Hauz Khas and Janpath,” he says. “We employ young adults, who may have run away from home, and economically deprived women.

The war against begging

Harsh Mander, The Hindu, Jan 25, 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

MERE IMPEDIMENTS? - The most recent skirmish in this sporadic warfare is a recent notification by the Delhi Traffic Police under the Motor Vehicles Act, which slaps fines of Rs. 1,000 on those who give alms to people begging at traffic lights. Beggars are therefore seen not as a spectacular human tragedy but an impediment to traffic. This view is endorsed by courts.

PREJUDICED PERCEPTIONS - The notion that begging is a crime derives not just from fears of begging mafias, but also from the conviction that begging is the first resort of the lazy poor. It assumes that most homeless people beg as a matter of choice. But as a recent study by PUCL-CSDS in Delhi found, only nine per cent homeless adults beg. Remarkably, we have found this ratio to apply even to street children, who prefer work — picking rags, serving tea in eateries or even vocations on the dark side of the law — to begging, …

Slumdog Millionaire: Meet the real Mumbai street urchins

Dean Nelson, The Telegraph, 18 Jan 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Mohammed says he earns good money at Victoria Terminus station, where he works with a gang of 12 children, each blocking 18 seats on several trains – forcing commuters to pay to sit down – and some making up to £6 a day. "We can make good money if we work hard," he says.   But it's dangerous work. He has seen knife-fights between gangs, paedophiles preying on the younger, weaker boys, and gangsters offering drugs – heroin, cannabis and solvents – to lure children into begging.   According to Mohammed, violence is a way of life, and he and his gang are often the aggressors. Occasionally, when passengers refuse to pay his charge, he uses his fists to force them. "If they don't pay, we fight, we beat them up, but it only happens once a week. Passengers know they have to pay.

Fourteen-year-old Rahul left his family's smallholding three years ago after he beat up a boy at school. He has an angelic face, but it's grubby and his SpongeBob SquarePants T-shirt is even dirtier. He lives on platform 15, where he began by begging, then graduated to collecting plastic bottles, before joining Mohammed in the seat‑blocking scam.   "It was difficult at first because of other boys. They took drugs and beat me up and threatened me with knives," he says. He makes only 50 rupees a day (60p) because he is smaller than the others and cannot block as many seats. "I spend my money on dahl and some vegetables. There's no money for fun. We do have some freedom, we can go around and see movies." But he wants to go back to his village one day, where he wants to return to farming. He misses his family.

Street beggar to star striker, Raja is India's football hope

Gethin Chamberlain, The Observer, 4 January 2009

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Hoping their luck would change, the boy and his father headed for the town of Thrissur in Kerala, but quickly found themselves penniless and on the streets. With his father too ill to work, Raja turned to begging.

Some of the other street children spotted him begging at the station. They told the gullible six-year-old they could get him a job and one for his father. Instead they took him to meet the boss of the local begging mafia, a man also called Chinnaswamy, behind a row of shops. The man threatened him and warned him against trying to escape.

"He said I had to give him 100 rupees a day or he would kill my father," Raja said. If he tried to escape, he was told, the other children would inform on him. One day Raja failed to hit his target. His father was sick with a fever and the boy needed to care for him.

"In the evening I went begging and went to see Chinnaswamy to give him the 50 rupees I had made. He tied me to a stove and hit me with an iron rod," he said. Chinnaswamy had gathered the other children round to watch, to make sure that they learned the lesson. The rod was heated on the stove until it was red hot. Raja rolls down his sock to show the scars. There is another scar to the left of one eye from where he was burned with a cigarette.

The god of small children

Nazia Mallick, Ode Magazine, December 10, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

India has the largest population of street children in the world. At least eighteen million children live or work on the streets of urban India, laboring as porters at bus or railway terminals; as mechanics in informal auto-repair shops; as vendors of food, tea, or handmade articles; as street tailors; or as rag pickers, picking through heaps of garbage and selling usable materials to local buyers.

HOW DO THEY END UP ON THE STREETS? - Basically it is the need for survival. These children come from very poor, violent and broken homes. There are many kids who have been literally abandoned by their parents/relatives or choose to leave home due to constant abuse such as physical, mental and sexual exploitation. Their tolerance level breaks at some point, leading to the drastic decision of running away.   Those who run away from home are either those who wanted to study and work but were not allowed to, or they ran away from remote villages to experience the perceived excitement of city life. Such children are abducted and pushed into begging. Some are forced into the street by their parents, when the parents are unable to feed and nourish them.

An UNICEF study found that almost 40,000 children die every day in developing countries, 25% of which are in India.   Studies indicate that the street children in India suffer from various chronic diseases and malnourishment. Being constantly exposed to dirt, smoke and other environmental hazards, their health condition is poor. Many suffer from serious diseases like TB, leprosy, typhoid, malaria, jaundice and liver/kidney disorders. There are cases of scabies, gangrene, broken limbs and epilepsy. Fatal diseases like HIV & AIDS is also spreading widely among them due to high incidence of sexual abuse and exploitation. A large number have genital lesions and suggestions of secondary syphilis. All these children have little or no family support.

Street children a ‘security threat’ at rly station

Manoj More, The Indian Express News Service, Dec 03, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

Officials said from time to time they have taken up the issue with the Government Railway Police (GRP), but the situation hadn’t changed one bit. They keep coming on the station premises, roam all over the place, sleep anywhere they want, quarrel among themselves and even steal passenger luggage and parcels arriving from other cities. Their number is around 50. “We want these kids out. They are a nuisance and a security threat,” said Divisional Railway Manager D K Jain. The biggest danger, said Jain, was that these youth can be bought over easily.   “Many of them are addicted to drugs. Some of them beg. So you cannot deny the possibility that these children will be used by miscreants to create trouble,” Jain said.   The Railway is also hassled by thefts of parcels. “In the night, you will find them sleeping on the parcels. They steal items from these parcels by using razors or knives. We have to compensate commuters for the loss,” said Y K Singh of Central Railway. In 2007, 13 thefts of parcels were reported while this year the number has risen to 15.

A bank for street children

Piya Kochhar, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 03-10-2008

[accessed 19 September 2011]

Street children running a bank for other street children. The idea might sound incongruous, but over 8,000 street children around the world are saving some of their meager earnings to build a better life.

TREASURE CHEST - In Delhi alone, 2000 street children have accounts in the 12 Khazana branches around the city. Most of these "branches" are located in make-shift posts at railway stations and crowded marketplaces... basically, anywhere where street children hang out.

Chasms between children

Harsh Mander, The Hindu, Oct 05, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

A child was talking of how he lost his home and ended up on the streets. He was travelling with his parents in a crowded train when he was very young. He got off the compartment at a station, and the train left with his mother and father. He never found his parents again. For most of his childhood years, he grew up on railway platforms with other homeless children as his only family, earning his food through selling water bottles or picking rags, battling sexual abuse and police batons, seeking solace in drugs and the comradeship of his street friends.

Ragpickers who saved Delhi

Sidharth Pandey, NDTV New Delhi, September 15, 2008

[accessed 12 October 2012]

Without them Delhi's serial blasts could have been a lot worse. Two ragpickers who found two live bombs in dustbins at Children's Park at India Gate and near Regal Cinema in Connaught Place and alerted the police are getting Rs 50,000 each as a reward.  A 12-year-old baloon seller and two young rag-pickers are the capital's latest heroes while one of the boys is helping the police narrow down on the men who may have carried out one of the blasts, the other two prevented two bombs from exploding by alerting the police in time.

However, NGOs say that this is a bitter irony as the capital's 1 lakh street children are often at the receiving end of the law.  Connaught Place, the heart of Delhi, also home to thousands of street-children who are its eyes and ears but go unnoticed, unheard.  It's been a long walk for Javed and Sunil, both in their teens, from broken families one from Bareily the other from Madhya Pradesh.  A year ago, they ran away from their homes and came to Delhi looking for work. But all they managed to do is this risky business especially after live bombs were found in dustbins on Saturday.  "We are scared as we pick garbage and especially from dustbins it could be bomb and something may happen but what to do, it's about survival," said Mohammad Javed, ragpicker.  The two walk over five kilometers each day, looking for stuff that can be sold to scrap dealers, 40-50 rupees is all they earn, life on the streets is not easy.

The former street kid who got his life back in focus

[Last access date unavailable]

Because of problems at school, he fled his West Bengal home at the age of 11 and sought shelter on the streets of New Delhi.  “I had many educational problems. I was really bad at studying and I had been bunking school for a month. When the school sent a letter to my parents, I knew I had to take a chance and run away, because I was so afraid of my father and I knew he would beat me.”  He left home with 20 rupees in his pocket and ended up living with hundreds of other street children at the New Delhi railway station.  He collected empty plastic bottles and sold them to buy food.  “Life was hard. During the evenings, I would try to sleep in a train, but sometimes police would come and beat us up for being on the train.”

Every sunrise has a sunset: Lives on the streets

Anshul Tewari, merinews, Aug 11, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

CHILDREN CUT SHORT: TREATMENT OF STREET CHILDREN - Street children in India are a soft target as they are young, poor and ignorant about their rights. The condition of these homeless children often leads to them resorting to petty theft, robberies, drug trafficking, prostitution, murders and other criminal activities.  A level of fear and intimidation is created in their minds because of the behaviour of the police.  Police often take money from these children and in case the children fail to pay they are beaten up like criminals and given third degree treatment. In some cases it has also led to mental disbalance and even deaths.

MAJOR PROBLEM THEY FACE: AIDS - One of the major problems the children face is AIDS.  The street children at the railway stations are worst affected and 35 per cent of them have Tuberculosis, the first symptom of AIDS. More than five million children on Indian streets are HIV positive.  Of these, girls are the worst affected. They are raped, taken away by touts and sold in brothels. Not a single girl at the New Delhi railway station has been spared.  In 1997, the Inter Press News Service wrote an article stating that the street children in India are most vulnerable to AIDS. The article brought to the fore the irony of one such girl among millions. Uma (name changed) a nine-year old girl was raped by a gang of homeless boys at the New Delhi railway station, where she also lived. The same happened over and over again. This led to the poor child delivering a still born baby

Living off the city's mean streets

Deepa Suryanarayan, Daily News & Analysis DNA, Mumbai, Jul 25, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, India has the largest population of street children in the world -- around 18 million, of whom nearly 2,50,000 live on the streets of Mumbai. Most of these children get by working as porters at bus or railway terminals, as mechanics in auto-repair shops, as vendors, as street tailors or as ragpickers.

The fate of a girl is very different from that of a boy on the street. "The average girl arriving in the city will last about 15 minutes before being approached by a person posing as a friendly stranger offering help," says Valerie Tripp of an NGO Saathi. "More often than not, these friendly strangers are agents who whisk away the unsuspecting girl to a brothel."

As for the boys, the railway platform is their permanent home. "They start with begging and selling knick-knacks, and when they get no money, they turn to crime," says Kasbe. "In many cases these children are picked by criminals to run errands."

Kasbe says these street children have a network of their own. "Most children who have been in the city for 15 days know where they can find free food," he says. The children form groups and head towards temples or shelters where food is distributed free, he says. They also know that they can find work in places like small hotels and shops.

The children of a street god

Surekha S & Humaira Ansari, Daily News & Analysis DNA, Mumbai, Jul 24, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Even before the train comes to a halt, what one sees is a mad scramble of young lads, as they leap into the compartments, dodging passengers to collect leftover food. It's with a sense of achievement that they emerge victoriously with packets of half eaten kurkure, dahi cups, mineral water, omelettes, Appy Fizz etc.  These kids who many Mumbaikars shun, or simply take for granted as being part of the urbanscape, earn about Rs50 to 60 a day. Some sell newspapers, some pick up plastic litter to sell to the local bangarwalla, others make their money carrying luggage and doing odd jobs.  Newspaper-vending, the most predominant occupation, also helps the ones who can read, know about the happenings in the city. It also gives the kids information about the latest film releases. So it's no surprise to hear the titles Hancock and Jane Tu being mentioned. The kids catch up on the films at their favourite cinemas, namely Maratha Mandir and Gaiety.  Coming from diverse parts of the country - Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and the interior of Maharashtra - these kids live life on their own terms; enjoying their life away from home as much as they can.

Flintoff, an 18-year-old boy from Madgaon came to Mumbai at the age of nine to become a film hero. But now, he says philosophically, "Everyone comes here to become a hero but ends up being a villain." He ran away from home to escape a drunkard for a father, and has since been living on the streets of Mumbai. He has no wish to return home. According to him: "We get food, a place to sleep, some money, and most important of all unrestricted freedom. What more do we want?"  But his words contradict his wish that 11-year-old Irfan, who joined his group recently, be taken away in order to lead a better life. Unaware of the harsh realities of street life, Irfan ran away from his home in Umarkhand to educate himself in Mumbai.

Though the kids paint a rosy picture of life, they are also aware of its grim realities. Apart from sustaining themselves, what they fear most is the beatings met out by the police. Entering the trains to procure meals, sleeping on platforms by night invite police lathis.  But it is drug-addiction that is the biggest cause for concern, when it comes to street children, according to the city's NGOs.

Giving children a voice: street wise

[Last access date unavailable]

Shekhar was 12 when he ran away from his home in Bihar, India's poorest state. Like many of India's runaways, he left the crippling poverty of rural India and the family he felt he was a burden to. He jumped on a train and eluded ticket collectors all the way to Delhi.

On arrival in Delhi, Shekhar met another street kid who pointed him to the temple for a free meal. Shekhar joined the estimated one million children who make their homes on the streets of Delhi, ekeing out a living - rag picking, shoe shining and in some cases, pickpocketing and drug peddling. Not all of the children are runaways: some are abandoned, or neglected; others work on the streets returning home to sleep. For these children the street is a work place, and they are an integral part of the city's economy. Some, like Shekhar, work sweeping the train cars and collecting any left over food. Rag pickers and bottle collectors play a useful role in a city with no real recycling programme or general rubbish collection.

Delhi's streets are an urban jungle where each day is spent battling against hunger, abuse, illness and fear. The popular perception of the street children is of lawless, crime-prone outcasts. Police and local officials use violence and intimidation widely against them. The government response is to round the children up and dump them in jail-like remand homes.

The future of capitalism

Arun Maira, The Economic Times ET Bureau, Jul 10, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

I attended a workshop with 60 school children in Delhi recently. All were between 14 and 17 years old. Half were from Delhi’s elite schools, and the other half were homeless children who lived on the streets near the railway station and were being helped along by an NGO. These 60 kids had been working together for a couple of weeks already. Their facilitator asked each of them to name a child in the room they were learning to respect. Almost all the street children named richer children. They said they admired the better off children for their sophistication and for their kindness. All the rich children named street kids. They said they admired these kids for their courage, intelligence, and initiative. This begs the question: who is the ‘fittest’?

Street children struggle to survive in Mumbai

Shilpa Hassani, merinews, Jun 03, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Most Indian street children work. Children who work, are not only subject to the strains and hazards of their labour, but are also denied the education or training that could enable them to escape the poverty trap.  Poor health is a chronic problem for them. Half of all children in India are malnourished, but for street children, the proportion is much higher. These children are not only underweight, but their growth has often been stunted.  Everyday, I come across such homeless kids begging, some near a ticket-counter, some near a food store, some at traffic signals, selling flowers or books.  Mumbai, a city that gives place to each and everyone, doesnt have place for them.

In pictures: Indian railways' runaway children

BBC News

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Bangalore's railway station is a gateway for thousands of India's hopefuls, coming to chase their dreams in the country's booming IT and call-centre hub.  But some of the daily arrivals never make it past the platforms.  Many of the city's 20,000 street children make the vast railway station their home.  Here, they wander untidy and unkempt and survive by begging, stealing and doing menial jobs such as sweeping trains and platforms.

CBI goes after foster parents in child racket

K Praveen Kumar, Times News Network (The Times of India) TNN, Chennai, May 14, 2008

[accessed 10 February 2011]

The case had originated on the basis of complaints from parents about missing children. One of them, the child of Kathiravel and Nagamani, pavement-dwellers in Pulianthope, had been allegedly kidnapped and sold to a Dutch couple.  Similarly, the four-year-old child of Sylvia, a woman from Otteri, was kidnapped from an auto and sold to a couple in Australia. Another couple from the city had lost their one-and-a-half-year old child, who was traced to the US.

The racket was busted in the city in the first week of May 2005 after the Otteri police received specific information about kidnapping of children in and around Otteri.  The police team then started investigations and arrested seven people identified as Varadharajan, Sheikh Dawood, Navjeen, Sabeera, Manoharan, Salima and K.T. Dawood. They subsequently traced the racket to an illegal adoption agency, Malaysian Social Service, which had kidnapped street children and sold them to foreigners after forging certificates. The case was subsequently transferred to the Crime Branch. - htsc

Promoter held for raping street children

The Statesman, Kolkata, 13 May 2008

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 24 May 2011]

An NGO informed the city police few months ago that they received complaints of street children being sexually abused by few taxi drivers at night. The NGO has already rescued some of the abused girls who are now staying in a shelter home. A senior city police officer said that initiatives have been taken to protect street children from being abused.

In a first, BMC gets talking about street children’s health

Express News Service, Mumbai, May 10, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

Recently, we took a friend to the Bhagwati Hospital because he was getting lumps in his leg and were shooed out. Even the community worker there does not help us because we are street children and have no elders to accompany us,” said 17-year-old Manish Jain, who came to Mumbai a decade ago.

Mumbai has an estimated 1.5 lakh street children, who take refuge at railway stations, pavements and shelter homes, with little or no access to healthcare.

Aras noted that as most street children do not have bathing and toilet facilities, many suffer from chronic diseases like asthma and dysentery.  Dr Pallavi Shelke from Sion Hospital who attended Friday’s session also noted that respiratory tract infection was most common, along with complaints of diarrhoea, sticky stools, abdominal pain and worm infestation, scabies, boils, malnutrition.

A glimpse at life on the streets in India

Judy Stoffman, The Toronto Star, Delhi, Apr 26 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

It's a place he knows first-hand. Shekhar was born in Bihar, the poorest of India's 28 states, and ran away at age 12, jumping on a train and eluding ticket takers all the way to Delhi.  "Basically, most of the children run away from the country because of poverty; they know they are a burden to their families," he says.

He quickly found that the children look out for one another.  "When I got here, I met another rag picker and he said `Are you hungry?' and he took me to the Sisganj Gurdwara (Sikh temple) for a free meal," Shekhar recalls.

These children, it turns out, are not an anomaly, but integrated into the city's economy.  They are not beggars – they work sweeping the train cars and collecting any leftover food. First-class trains are particularly good.  "My friend got into a car with a wedding party and got two pieces of chicken," he says.  From a bridge between the platforms, he points out some boys jumping between the tracks, collecting empty plastic water bottles, which fetch half a rupee each.

They make, he says, 60 to 70 rupees a day or about $2.  In a nook below the overpass, a child is sleeping under a piece of cardboard.  We walk past a juice seller who lets children sleep on top of his booth, and acts as a banker, keeping their scant rupees safe from theft.  Another shop on the platform is Chemist Corner, where sick children go to buy herbal medicines.  "Street children are crazy about Bollywood movies," says Shekhar. "Some will hop the train to Mumbai to see a premiere. They play hide and seek with the railway police; if they are caught they get badly beaten."

Geetanjali Krishna: Children of a lesser god

Geetanjali Krishna, Business Standard,  New Delhi, April 19, 2008

[accessed 9 Aug  2013]

“It takes most children less than a month on the streets to take to glue,” said Amit, who started Jamghat. He and his friends estimate that almost every single child on the streets of Delhi has been sexually, physically or mentally abused. The children face other problems as well — the money they make begging, pushing carts or as coolies, is more often than not, snatched by older residents of the park, even by the police themselves. “It is sad,” said Amit, “but the fact is that today, few are willing to take on the responsibility of these troubled children.”

Streetsmart bankers

Meenakshi Sinha, Times News Network (The Times of India) TNN, Mar 2, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

This red-and- yellow enclosure is the Children's Development Bank (CDB) — run by street children, exclusively for street children.  As soon as the bank opens at 6:30 pm (unlike regular banks, CDB operates only in the evening because street children work during the day), its young customers line up to make withdrawals or deposit their day's earnings.  Thirteen-year-old Durgesh waits patiently as the cashier — who is as old as Durgesh — makes an entry in his passbook and hands him a note of Rs 50.  Apart from his daily expenses and an occasional movie outing, Durgesh is saving up hard to go home. "The bank is a safe place to deposit my money," he says.  There are many like him — runaways from desperately poor rural homes who join the big city's floating population of ragpickers and street vendors. "Most of them are boys; there aren't many girls on the streets," says Suman Sachdeva, development manager of Butterflies, the NGO behind the initiative.  The bank opens for an hour everyday — a busy time for its manager-cum-cashier, a nominated child volunteer who runs the affairs. The job is rotated every six months, giving youngsters (usually in the 12-14 age group) a chance to learn accounting and be responsible with money.

Child-beggars: Battering experiences, bitter future

Sharmila Govande, merinews, Feb 26, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

The life of a child beggar is very daunting and frightful. Akbar (name changed) shivers every time he recollects the days when he was forced to beg. He was beaten, assaulted, tortured whenever he was not able to bring in his daily quota of earnings. He took to pick pocketing and other petty crimes in order to protect himself from the wrath of his dealer. He took to smelling glue to overcome his hunger. He did not have a bath for months and used any open space to defecate.  Fortunately, he was rescued by an NGO working for street children. “I was lucky, since I was an orphan. Didi did not have to seek any ones permission for taking me to their shelter. Many others continued suffering as it was their own parents who forced them into begging.”

PMC to build a nest for street kids

Times News Network (The Times of India) TNN, Feb 6, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

In a unique initiative, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has undertaken a project to provide shelter to all street children in the city. The 'Gharte' (Nest) project will ensure that no child on the street is left without care.  If the PMC successfully implements the scheme, it will be the first civic body in the country to provide 100 per cent rehabilitation of street children.  "We will ensure that the childhood of no kid is destroyed on the streets. It is our social responsibility to look after these children. It is possible to take care of street kids whose lives are getting wasted," municipal commissioner Pravinsinh Pardeshi said while speaking to TOI.  The beneficiaries of the project will be children of single parent or no parent, children of sex workers, runaway children and children of parents who do not care for them.

New scheme gives street kids home, school

Preeti Jha, The Indian Express News Service, New Delhi, Jan 14, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

By opening a school that runs classes during the day and provides meals and secure lodgings at night, the DoE hopes it will attract and educate both students who have never enrolled in a school and those who would otherwise drop out to earn a livelihood. “We’re not opening a children’s home,” stressed Education Secretary Rina Ray, “but we are trying to address a few of the underlying problems that prevent street children or child labourers, for instance, from going to school.”

In a simultaneous move, destitute women will also be recruited to live alongside groups of five or six students--a concept inspired by NGO SOS-India, which runs children’s villages across the country for orphaned and abandoned children, uniquely teaming up a childcare professional, known as a mother, with a child. “The mothers will be able to guide and aid their group of children’s educational and general development,” said Ray.

Christmas sales bring cheer to street children

Indo-Asian News Service IANS, 25 December 2007

[accessed 9 Aug  2013]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

Sanjida, heavily pregnant and a young mother of two, similarly is really happy with the sales. “I have sold 50 such caps in two days,” she smiled, sitting on the pavement with her children in south Delhi’s R K Puram area  “I get these caps from Sadar Bazar, which is a wholesale market, near Connaught Place. I sell them at Rs25,” she said, folding the last cap into a plastic packet  “Otherwise, I sell red roses, which I buy from the early morning flower market in Connaught Place itself. Although I am selling flowers too, the rapid sale of caps has lightened the load of earning my daily bread,” she said  Although these items - the red Santa Clause caps or the Santa Clause mask - are easily available in the market, people prefer buying from the street children.

Budget for children neglects health, protection

Hemlata Verma, The Indian Express News Service, Shimla, Dec 25, 2007

[accessed 24 May 2011]

A look at the state budget for children in the past four years reveals that the government’s investment in the education sector has been at the cost of children’s requirement of health and protection facilities. As a result, the state has seen a sharp rise in the number of street children and very little improvement in the condition of 58 per cent anaemic children (between 6-35 months age). Besides, health and protection, requirements of adolescents have also remained totally neglected.  This was revealed in a report, “Analysis of State’s Priorities Towards Children”, released by Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA) in collaboration with Centre for Child Rights. The report was recently released by Governor V.S. Kokje.

Childhood marred with sex and drugs

Kishalay Bhattacharjee, NDTV, Dimpaur, December 22, 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

Street children in the north-east are trapped in a vicious circle of substance and sexual abuse. This street culture drives them to a life of theft.  AB's (name protected) home are the streets of Dimapur, where he's spent all his 17 years. Except the time he went to jail but that's not his concern right now.  He is back and trying to fit back to the only life he has had, drugs, theft and unsafe sex.  "I live on the footpath, pick up scrap, take dendrite and drugs. We were told about HIV, through the injections that we take we know that HIV can be transmitted. Then I went to jail for drugs and theft, we were also told about condom use. Mom left and dad married someone else so he left. I am here in Dimpaur."

India starts putting its street children in schools

Jonathan Allen, Reuters, New Delhi, Mon Dec 17, 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

Eleven-year-old Anurag never went to school because he had to scavenge through Delhi's bins, dumps and gutters in search of sellable trash each day before spending his nights sleeping on the street.

"I never had a home, so it's not like I've left home," he said, holding hands with his new best friend, 10-year-old Rahul.  "I ran away from home because they wouldn't send me to school," adds Rahul, explaining that his parents sent him to work at a motorcycle repair shop on Delhi's outskirts.  Anurag and Rahul are among 30 homeless children involved in a pilot project in Delhi, giving them housing and "bridging" classes to help them catch up on lost years of schooling.

Delhi’s poorest left behind in drive to make city ready for 2010 games

The Herald (Scotland), 15 Dec 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

The father of six is not alone. In the months leading up to the games, more than 5000 families have been forced from their homes as the city authorities demolished hundreds of slums and encampments around New Delhi, a crowded, traffic-choked city of 14 million people.  New Delhi already has 150,000 homeless residents - the vast majority of them women and children - a staggering figure that critics say is largely ignored by city leaders.

But Delhi's handling of its homeless population has brought into sharp focus a larger problem facing India, an emerging superpower where the needs of the country's 70 million homeless, mostly women and children, are often brushed aside as the gap widens between the haves and the have-nots.

In her own words: Katy French in Calcutta

Katy French, October 07 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

These children have no homes, no water, no food, no health service, and no education. They are alone. Often children as young as four are thrown on to the streets by their own mother and father, simply because they cannot provide for them. They are seen more as a burden than a blessing. Many are maimed; others are handicapped, yet they are nonetheless discarded because they cannot contribute.  All are just little children left wondering what to do and where to go. They are at the mercy of those who would use and abuse them, rather than help them.

Kids earn brownies for companies

Business Standard BS, New Delhi, November 20, 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

Can islands of welfare initiatives change the larger picture for children in India?  Companies are running projects for children, but the scattered nature of these makes them drops in an ocean of need.

Says Pooran Pandey, who heads Times Foundation: "These scattered efforts, unless put together, cannot have an impact. For, there is no guarantee that good models are replicated with every company trying to re-invent the wheel."

HIV Prevention among street children in India : Lessons learned

Mohammed MU; International Conference on AIDS -- Int Conf AIDS. 2002 Jul 7-12; 14: abstract no. WeOrD1273, S.V.University, Dept. of Population Studies, Tirupati - Andhra Pradesh, India

[accessed 25 May 2011]

India has the largest number of street children in the age group of 8-18 years. They are exposed to all kinds of risky social environment. They are prone to drinking alcohol, smoking, begging, pick-pocketing and many other similar vices. A vast majority of the street children indulge in sex at a very young age (after crossing 14 years of age). The Government of India felt that there was a potent danger of the spreading of HIV/AIDS among the street children and from them to the general public. - sccp

Children’s Day under the shadow of the rape of childhood

Rishabh, merinews, Nov 13, 2007

[accessed 12 October 2012]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

The definition of a ‘child’ in the Indian legal and policy framework is someone below 18 years. Our laws are neither child friendly nor child oriented. Here are few figures:  - sccp

q  Less than half of India’s children between the age of six and 14 go to school.

q  Only 38 per cent of children below two years are immunised.

q  Over 50 per cent children are malnourished.

q  One out of every six girls does not live to see her 15th birthday.

q  Of 12 million girls born, one million do not see their first birthday.

q  Females are victimised far more than males in their childhood.

q  53 per cent of girls in the age group of five to nine years are illiterate.

q  There are two million child commercial sex workers between the age of five and 15 years.

q  17 million children in India work out of compulsion, not out of choice.

Giving India's Kids Hope and a Future

Gary Lane, Christian Broadcasting Network CBN News, BANGALORE, November 7, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 25 May 2011]

CHILDREN OF THE STREETS - They're seen just about everywhere in India's largest cities: poor and homeless children living and hanging out on the streets.  Some hustle enough rupees here and there to pay for an occasional plate of rice.  An expanding economy is creating new wealth and opportunities in India.  But in cities like Bangalore, thousands of young children and teens have yet to benefit from the economic boom, according to Sajan George, the head of The Global Council of Indian Christians.  "We have about 800,000 orphans, street children, children under bonded labor. This is a large number of people in Bangalore City itself and they're being robbed of their youth and childhood," George said.

Lost, runaway street children find their way back home via cyberspace

Mihika Basu, The Indian Express News Service, Mumbai, November 02, 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

Rinku is one among several children who run away from home everyday in search of a better life in Mumbai but ultimately end up on its streets. Thanks to the consistent efforts of the shelter, several like him are able to relocate their families though a homelink website ( launched in July this year.

Opportunists Allegedly Sponsoring Street Beggars in Uganda

Voice of America VOA News, Kampala Uganda, October 23, 2007

[accessed 12 October 2012]

“The way these children were picking [taking] the money was rather professional.  All of them were using a [one] particular arm (the right arm) they wave it in front of your face, and when they pick [take] the money you see them running to an adult who is sited [waiting] on the side of the road – which brought out the picture that this was an organized arrangement assisted by politicians.”

Lokwir John, a 12-year-old Karimajog beggar denied this. He told me that he was not attending school and came to Kampala to seek money for food. He said his uncle put him on a bus with other Karamoja families going to Kampala for a better life. He said every week, he sends his money home to his mother in the village.

‘Street Dreams’ come true in life and on film for two shutterbugs

Upneet Pansare, The Indian Express News Service, Mumbai, Oct 23, 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

At 11, both Haran and Vicky Roy ran away from their homes in West Bengal, hoping to escape a life of poverty and deprivation. But they landed on the streets of Delhi, alone and vulnerable.  Eleven years later, both returned but as budding photographers, chronicling the life on the streets on film.

Dont erazeus out...

Nina C George, Deccan Herald, October 18, 2007

[accessed 18 January 2017]

Following their path Suhas discovered that these children consume Erazex during late evening and at night. Open drains, parks, and empty spaces serve as ideal places where they sit in a large group and sniff off a cloth which they pass from one person to another. “There’s a dog accompanying every gang. These are good watch dogs and protect these children from police, underworld gangsters or by older street boys who bully them and use them to achieve their own ends,” explains Suhas.

No Child’s Play This

Screen India, 2007-10-19

[accessed 25 May 2011]

But more than creating awareness about these issues, our aim is to stress the need for education of these children. By employing them as domestics or giving them other jobs, we think we get them out of a financial crisis, but in the bargain we are depriving them of their basic right of…..Education.

Street children campaign for their rights in Kolkata

The Indian Express News Service, Kolkata, Oct 13, 2007

[accessed 25 May 2011]

They have no place to stay and have made the streets their home. Armed with placards requesting the authorities concerned not to evict them, more than 80 street children below the age of 15 years marched down the crowded streets of north Kolkata on Friday with their parents by their side.

For Gita Paswan, a Class I student, the march was to stop the police from destroying their shanties and separating them from their parents. Dinesh (13), a school dropout was there to make people aware of the plight of others like him. “Police come and evict us from our homes. The worst sufferers are those who go to schools as there is little time to study if one stays on the streets,” he said.




All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - India",, [accessed <date>]