Govt must take care of vulnerable street children in this winter

The figure is not only staggering but shocking as well. A recent UNICEF data revealed that at least 30.1 per cent of street children in Bangladesh live and sleep in public or open space without most basic amenities and 83.9 per cent of them are subject to abuse or harassment by pedestrians.

This winter has exposed their vulnerabilities even more. Their sufferings multiply manifold during the period of weather extremities.

If this is the picture of a great portion of the child population in Bangladesh – and UNICEF must have found the figures through reliable field study or sources – the government authorities, social leaders as well as the concerned individuals have a great reason to worry about the future of these children.

The UNICEF data also revealed that 71.8 per cent of street children can neither read nor write with 11.3 per cent children in Bangladesh are engaged in child labour, hazardous work or both.

The government here has consistently made tall claims that the country was on the super highway of development making a display of some mega infrastructure projects, but behind this façade of development, homelessness and poverty are shattering hope for life for a great section of the population.

The government at different times took up various social safety net programmes, but the percentage of hopeless scenarios of children who are living their life in the open tells us that these programmes could not give them the much needed social security. Added to this abject poverty is the violence the children face every day.

block

The UNICEF data relate that 89 per cent children aged between 1 and 14 years experienced violence and 51 per cent girls were married off before the age of 18 in the country.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the huge economic crisis that the country was going through increased the number of dropouts from schools and colleges.

These dropouts when they are boys are joining the country’s workforce as child labourers and when they are girls are becoming child brides.

Against this picture of deprivation and suffering are those who are amassing great wealth, albeit illegally, by the direct patronisation of the government.

Therefore, the government will have to take the responsibility for the wretched existence of these children who have been left to their fate of sorrow and hardships.

block