Abuse and Exploitation of Street Children

The following  articles have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Nepal.

Street Children, Big Problem in Nepal

Most of the children living in the streets right now left their homes at the age of eight because of various problems that happened in their families.  These problems were mainly caused by stepmothers, family conflicts, poverty, lack of awareness, and orphanages.  Some children left in search of better opportunities in the big cities.  Most of those children living in the streets depend on begging from others, working as porters and construction workers in the construction sites inside of the cities and their neighboring villages.

Constraints and challenges: Dangerous and unhealthy living environments and the resulting untreated illnesses and frequent injuries that entail. Lack of adequate emotional support, food, shelter and safe places to sleep and store belongings, leading to inability of street children to save money. Dependency of newcomers to the street on more ‘experienced’ street children. Involvement of street children in criminal activities.

Street Children in Nepal

According to ILO’s rapid assessment on rag-picking children, there are about 4,000 children working in this sector, which is considered one of the worst forms of child labor. Among the rag pickers, 88% are boys and 12% girls.  In average, rag pickers work 6 hours a day and earn NRs. 87 per day.  They concentrate in the areas like junkyards, temples, market centers, cinema halls, airports, bus terminals, hardware shops, tourist centers, etc. while they do their work.  While on the street they face problems of hunger, shelter, clothes, etc.  Similarly, face problems from police, “dada” (bullies), gang etc.  With all these problems and tensions, they lead their complex life.

‘I left home thinking that the carpet factory would hire me, but they told me the authorities did not want people of my age to work.  It might be a good thing done by the government, but where does it leave people like me?’ asks a desperate Shivam.  Indeed, where did that leave him?  On the Kathmandu streets and begging…

NEPAL:CHILD LABOR  Hard Reality

An orphan from an early age, Madan Karki (name changed),14, used to work at his uncle’s small farm in Jeevanpur of Dhading District, 50 kilometer west of capital. Madan’s job was to take the cattle for grazing the whole day. One day, a family friend approached him with offer for work at his home in Kathmandu with a promise that he will be admitted in a school.

However, the man instead engaged him at a carpet factory in Kathmandu. Working like a bonded labor, Madan was forced to learn knotting wool rugs on heavy wooden looms. His workdays started at 4 am in the morning till 11 at night. The earthen floor of the factory was his bed. When the owner obtained a rush order, he and the other boys would have to work throughout the entire night. Despite his hard work, the owner always scolded and physically abused him.

After working in harsh conditions for about eight months in the factory, Madan –who was not paid – fled the factory to work as a helper in a gas tempo. Now, he earns about Rs 1000 (approximately $15) a month. Madan’s case is not a unique one as this is the reality of many child workers in Nepal.

Because Nepal’s dependency on child labor is so deeply entrenched, only half of the children are allowed to complete the fifth grade of school. The ILO reports showed that. Children are employed in eighteen different sectors like in brick kiln, coal mines, child prostitution, mug house, leather processing industry, coal mine, stone quarrying, match factory, house-hold helper, bonded labor, street children, mine and carpet factory, drug trafficking, transport sector etc. About 1.4 million children are not provided the salary for their work and 1.27 million children are working in worst forms of labor.

Nepal police free child labourers

Police in Nepal have rescued 14 children, forced to work as bonded labourers at a weaving factory in the capital, Kathmandu. Police said the children were working as wool spinners within the dark, cold rooms of the secretly run factory.  They said the children, aged between 14 and 17, were treated inhumanely and were not paid.

 In the past six months, CWIN recorded 2,866 cases of child labour exploitation, child deaths and murder, missing children, violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, forced prostitution, children affected by armed conflict and children in conflict with the law.

Bank accounts for Nepal’s street kids

About 600 children live and work in the streets of Kathmandu. They earn their living picking plastic, selling souvenirs and working as money-collectors in public buses and three-wheelers.  Until now they have had no place to keep their savings.

Glue Sniffing among Street Children in the Kathmandu Valley

More than 80% street children are addicted to glue sniffing, which is the current trend among street children. The issue of drug use and HIV among street children is utterly neglected by the organizations working on the issues of HIV and drug abuse.

95 pc street children sniff glue

With the onset of winter, it is usual for people to buy warm clothes and heaters to warm up their rooms and snuggle up in the quilt till late morning.   However, looking at skimpily dressed street children, you may wonder how they survive the freezing cold of Kathmandu. But they have their own way of keeping warm: they sniff dendrite.

Bibek Moktan, 12, who hails from Hetauda, warms up his winter morning by blowing into and inhaling from a plastic bag containing dendrite.   “I sniff one tube (50 grams) of dendrite a day,” said Moktan. “When I first tried sniffing, I felt a current flowing inside me, but slowly I got used to it.”   Kale Pariyar, 15, from Kalimati, was also sniffing from a dirty plastic with glue inside it. “I sniff, because I want to enjoy as others do,”said Pariyar.    Bibek and Kale are not the only ones who sniff glue to keep warm and to be happy. There are hundreds of children on the streets of the capital addicted to glue despite various health hazards associated with it.

Glue sniffing affects various organs including the brain, nervous system, eyes, blood, lungs and heart and even causes death.

Children remain easy prey for exploitation, violence

Street children are the most vulnerable lot. Sexual abuse is hidden but a widely prevalent suffering among them. No child is safe and away from this cauldron of suffering.  Approximately 99 per cent of them are physically and psychologically abused. Child sexual abuse may include fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse.  The other ways a child can be abused with are direct physical contact, such as sex by exposures, voyeurism and child pornography, use of obscene language, also referred to as non-contact abuse, shows a research conducted jointly by CPSC NGO Nepal, CPCS INT Belgium and VOC Nepal.

Males are the predominant perpetrators of sexual abuse against street children. On average, there are three male abusers for every two female abusers. On an average, 40 per cent of sexually abusive episodes are perpetrated by street-living children and adults as well as 40 per cent by non-street living adults.  Non street-living adults include relatives, shop, hotel or restaurant owners and workers or any Nepali adult not living on the street. The street is clearly the chief location for all types of sexual abuses, accounting for one in three incidents occurring. – sccp

Nepal police ‘torture kids for fun:’ rights group

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had received more than 200 reports this year of the torture in police custody of street children or minors suspected of crimes.  “Sometimes, the torture is inflicted to extract confessions from the children,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Bede Sheppard.  “At other times it appears to be carried out purely for the entertainment of the official,” Sheppard said.  The youngest alleged victim of police torture was a 13-year-old, and methods of torture reported on the minors included kicking, punching, forcing metal nails under toenails and beatings with plastic pipes, the rights group said.

Street Children in Nepal Struggling with AIDS

It is well documented that street-based children share an environment and practices that make them vulnerable to HIV infection. Furthermore, two independent tests conducted by an NGO in Kathmandu  identified the existence of HIV infection among this sub-population. In these tests, 25 out of 80 (31 percent) street children were HIV positive, and 16 out of 32 (50 percent) “high-risk” street children were HIV positive.