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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                   

Republic of India

India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for more than half of India's output with less than one third of its labor force. Slightly more than half of the work force is in agriculture, leading the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to articulate a rural economic development program that includes creating basic infrastructure to improve the lives of the rural poor and boost economic performance.

The economy has posted an average growth rate of more than 7% in the decade since 1997, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points.


Description: Description: India

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text 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.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


How COVID-19 is affecting underprivileged children in India

Dharvi Vaid, DW New Delhi, July 10, 2020

[accessed 8 February 2023]

"Ragpicking here was never difficult. I had no money during the lockdown. Survival has never been this tough," he says.   Orphaned at a young age and living on the streets since then, Nankesh knows what survival means. "Coronavirus is for the rich, not for us. The poor have to work. I have no family, so I have nothing to worry about. I just want to earn my daily wage," he says, as he continues work without a face mask.

Spreading awareness about the virus and ensuring physical distancing was another challenge.   "A minimum of 60 people live in this room. While the world was talking about social distancing, we had no choice. We slept close to each other," 16-year-old Sangeeta who lives in a night shelter in Delhi said.

"With the lockdown, several basic services for children such as growth monitoring, supplementary nutrition, immunization, sexual and reproductive health services, education and child protection systems were disrupted," said Puja Marwaha, head of CRY. "This has affected children living in multidimensional poverty disproportionately since they are largely dependent on these services to fulfill their rights and entitlements."

More kids flee abuse than poverty

Express News Service, Ahmedabad, November 20, 2006

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Contrary to popular myth, more children leave home due to a disturbed domestic environment than abject poverty, according to a report from the Ahmedabad Study Action Group (ASAG) and the Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR).  The study ranks familial harassment as the top reason behind children running away from home.

On the streets where they live [PDF]

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Delhi’s streetchildren have set up an alternative forum for themselves. They meet, discuss problems, and even publish their own newspaper.  There are 400,000 streetchildren in Delhi. The capital’s streets and roads are their workplace. For 100,000 of these children, the streets double as home. They have nowhere else to go. Streetchildren work as rag-pickers, in tea-stalls and dhabhas (roadside eateries), as shoeshine boys or vendors. But street life can be unpleasant and risky. They face physical abuse, the callousness of policemen, are vulnerable to drugs and to health insecurities.

Police Abuse And Killings Of Street Children In India

Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Project, November 1996

[accessed 24 May 2011]

Indian street children are routinely detained illegally, beaten and tortured and sometimes killed by police. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon: police perceptions of street children, widespread corruption and a culture of police violence, the inadequacy and non-implementation of legal safeguards, and the level of impunity that law enforcement officials enjoy.

Journey to the streets

Harsh Mander, The Hindu, Jul 13, 2008

[accessed 24 May 2011]

[accessed 5 December 2016]

HARSH NECESSITIES - Abuse often drives boys from their homes, who flee their families to escape intolerable abuse. These are acts of incredible courage for children so young, echoed and repeated in the lives of tens of thousands of street children who decide at very young ages to bravely escape violence and abuse in their homes — alcoholic fathers, physical and sexual violence — by fending for themselves, at whatever cost. But we also have children who were lost or abandoned by their families at such a young age that they do not recall their origins. The streets are the only home that they remember.

NO OTHER HOME - Some are also simply born to the streets. In Chennai, in particular, we encountered several families which had lived for several generations on the same piece of pavement. Their great grandparents came to the city, sometimes 80 years earlier or longer, and the patriarchs colonised gradually “their” part of the pavement. New generations were born, one following the next, and they all grew up in the same stretch of pavement. This was the only home that the large extended family now knew. Mohan, a street boy in Chennai, said, “Homelessness is not a new thing for me. I was born into streets, and it was here that I was brought up.” He is convinced that they will be forced to return to the streets. Likewise, Mythili is another of “homeless lineage”. When she was a child, her father was irresponsible, “a drunkard, he never cared for us”, she recounts, and her mother fed them by selling food cooked by her on the pavements to other homeless people.


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