1.5m children wondering in Pakistan’s streets

KARACHI: Around 1.5 million children are wondering in the streets of Pakistan while the majority of them have no identity, and that is why the United Nations is celebrating this year, the International Day for Street Children on 12th April with the theme of “Identity”, a human rights activist Shafique Ahmed told PPI Monday.

As per the Unicef report, in the world, there are around 12.5 million street children, adding that the International Day for Street Children takes place on April 12 Worldwide for spreading awareness among general public and to speak out so that their rights cannot be ignored, said Ahmed.

He showed concern that no steps are being taken to protect the rights of children in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh province, however, the federal government is required by Article 25 (3) of the Constitution to make special provisions to protect the rights of women and children. After the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, provinces are responsible for to ensure provision of rights to children including healthcare, quality education, and dignity to live.

As a signatory to the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Pakistan also has treaty obligations to protect children’s rights but nothing could be done in this regard, said Ahmed.

Ahmed further added that the causes of this phenomenon are varied, but are often related to domestic, economic, or social disruption. The street children has been facing many problems including sexual, physical or emotional abuse, begging, mental health problems, forced labour, human trafficking, and sexual orientation or gender identity issues.

He said lack of rehabilitation centres in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur for street children shows that how the provincial Social Welfare Department is serious to develop such an ignored section of the society. He said Punjab government had taken the lead for rehabilitating street children in Pakistan.

“The International Day of Street Children is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of these children around the globe, and it should be supported. Street children have been discriminated for long, and we have an opportunity to change this if we listen to them and those working with them, and adopt integrated approaches to tackle their needs and to share good practice. Let’s hope that today will see the beginning of that change.” he added.