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HUMAN RIGHTS OF STREET CHILDREN - A SOCIO LEGAL ISSUE IN INDIA

Author: Aman Kumar, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from KIIT School of Law Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Co-author: Divyanshu Raj, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from KIIT School of Law Bhubaneswar, Odisha.


First and foremost, before delving further into this topic, it is critical to understand the definition and scope of the term "street children." Street children is not a word, but rather a situation of those children who suffer from poverty as a result of homelessness, with the cause of homelessness being that they were abandoned by their parents due to poverty and were either left homeless or sold for exploitation. In general, these children live on the streets and feed themselves by performing challenging tasks in order to survive and live a life. Destitute children are those who are kicked out of the house by a single parent or are forced to leave their homes by a single parent in economically developed countries. Looking at the situation, we can conclude that this type of youngster is quite similar to street children in that they are also compelled to make a living on the street and are frequently abused, neglected by society, and, in the worst-case scenario, dead.


"Criminals are not born, they are made," goes an old adage that we've all heard at some point in our lives. As a result, we may claim that children are not born as street children, but are shaped as a result of society's carelessness. If we look at our own nation, India, the situation is even worse, as it is typical to witness children begging for money and other necessities or selling various types of things to make a meager living in locations like bus stops, main roadways, and train stations. One of the key issues is that street children become victims of criminal conduct as a result of their separation from mainstream society.


The United Nations Organization's Declaration of Human Rights was the first proper body to come to the aid of street children with some proper answers. The United Nations Human Rights Council established a framework to address the gravity of the social legal issue and set in place numerous measures to fight for the rights of this group. Part IV of the Indian Constitution's directive principles of state policies, as well as Part III of the Indian Constitution's fundamental

rights, provide for the protection of children, as well as the responsibility of both the central and state governments to take significant steps to promote the growth and development of these groups.


1.) THE SOCIETY AND STREET CHILDREN: To understand and appreciate the study of street children, you must first understand and admire the meaning and definition of the term Street children. To put it another way, street children are children who are poor (homeless) who live on the streets of a city begging for food. As previously stated, some children, referred to as destitute children or tossed out children, were forced to leave home due to single parents. Street children are young girls and boys of all ages who live and work in public locations in the vast majority of the world's cities. We can argue that street children are not born this way, but society is to blame for such heinous behavior. Everyone has seen women clutching newborns and begging for survival on bus stops, stations, traffic signals, and other public places. This is a sad reality, and it is not only in India, but also in western countries. We all know that determining the precise number of street children is extremely difficult, and that the figure is likely to be in the millions. As we all know, the world's population is rapidly increasing, and the number of street children is increasing as well. We should also keep in mind that not all street children are orphans, and that many of them keep in touch with such children's families while working on the streets to run their family's financial situation. Due to physical or sexual abuse, many street children have fled their homes. The unfortunate reality is that society does not treat street children well, since many of them are forced to engage in harmful behaviors and many are considered trash.


2.) SOCIO-LEGAL ISSUES: If we look at the term "street children," we can see that they exist all over the world. It has become a very essential component of society, and it is one of the factors obstructing the growth of street children's well-being. To understand the socio-legal issue, we must first understand what street children are: youngsters who have no home but the streets. Such children are thrown out of their homes or abandoned when they are born on the streets, and in order to live, they make the streets their homes and perform any kind of hard labor. The reasons why street children-humans work and live are as follows:



WHO has identified the reasons for street children being on the streets, including-


Neglected Children- These are the youngsters whose needs are not met as they grow up due to poverty, and as a result, they walk the streets to make a living. A neglected child is one who is found begging or without a home or parents, according to section 2(2) of India's Children Act 1960, and such children are examples of socio-legal issues that must be handled.


Unwanted Children- Each year, over a huge number of new born children in our country are thrown out because they are undesired, according to estimates. The child born in a broken household, by an unwed mother, or by a prostitute falls into this category, and children born from them are completely neglected because they have no standing and are looked down upon in society; such cases are socio-legal issues.


3.) CATEGORIES OF CHILD LABOUR: Child labour has had a negative impact on children's physical and mental development.


Street Children- As you can see in this paper, the location where street children can be discovered, and their situation is not the same as child labour. Children are guaranteed work and return home in the evening, just as they are in child labour, but street children are completely reliant on employees and live in bus stops, stations, and other public places, moving from place to place, and their predicament is more difficult than that of factory-worked children who live at home.


Forced Labor- In this situation, children are there because of their parents or because they are there for only one reason: they must pay off a debt inherited from their parents or themselves, and they must work under them to do so. Historically, this type of labor was associated with rural economies, in which peasants from economically disadvantaged communities were forced to work for landlords.


Children Used For Sexual Exploitation-Further investigation reveals that many young girls and boys satisfy the carnal desires of men from all walks of life. Sexual exploitation occurs most frequently in factories, workshops, bus stops, and railway stations, where youngsters labour. Children have little option but to be mistreated by their employers, and debts must be repaid through the labour of their daughters, making sexual exploitation one of the mass dangerous types of child labour.


4.) NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs) AND THE MEDIA: Non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and the media have played an important role in raising awareness about this predicament. Creating a social climate in which street children are heard instead of oppressed. NGO briefings and interventions with relevant ministries and government on a regular basis. We are all aware that millions of children under the age of 18 live in India, representing a diverse range of cultures, faiths, castes, and socioeconomic groups. Several organizations are examining the status of street children around the world and working to improve it.


5.) LAW PROVISIONS RELATING TO STREET CHILDREN'S PROTECTION: As previously stated, the issue of street children and the preservation of their rights is a global concern, not just in India. According to Article 1 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights. As a result, all street children who are abandoned on the streets are born free and cannot be forced to labor or subjected to abuse that jeopardizes or damages their rights and dignity. According to Article 3, everyone, including street children, has the right to liberty and life, and as a result, they can live a normal life without hardship. No one shall be subjugated to slavery, as stated in article 4, and this trade will be forbidden in all enterprises. According to Article 26(1), everyone has the right to an education.


The Child Rights Information Network (C.R.I.N.) was established in 1983. It is a global coalition of 1600 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) advocating for the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. While all children need to be protected, some are more vulnerable than others and require special care due to social, economic, or geographical circumstances.


The Indian Constitution guarantees various rights to all children in India. The following are the Special and Guaranteed Articles:

  • Article 21.A: All children aged six (6) to fourteen (14) years get free and compulsory education from the state.

  • Article 24: states that not a single child who is below 14 years should be employed in any form of work.

  • Article 39(e): The state shall, in particular, direct its policies toward ensuring that workers', men's and women's, and children's, vulnerable ages are not misused, and that citizens are not driven by economic necessity to engage in avocations unsuited to their age or strength, and other related articles.



Graph representing the factors for becoming street children.


This study shows that street children, whether they are with their families or on their own, are especially vulnerable to the risks of society. Poverty is viewed as the fundamental cause of their existence on the streets. While the majority of the children lived under parental supervision and received some care and protection, they all encountered problems and challenges on a daily basis. The government should provide assistance to those non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are working hard to help such youngsters get out of their predicament by providing them with food, shelter, and other necessities.


People should also be made aware of the problem that street children face so that society can come together and find a viable solution and offer assistance in any way possible. In this way, basic human rights can be preserved and will be of great benefit to these underprivileged children. Finally, because a child is a national asset, every citizen has a responsibility to protect them.


The source of social construction is assumed to be human interpretation. People understand the acts of others and how they form social relationships. The impressions and feelings of social workers cannot possibly be the same as those of a street youngster.They can provide a descriptive opinion regarding the differences in individual personality development and the causes that lead to the child being on the street from their perspective, but never a true one from the child's perspective. That is why it is critical to emphasize that this thesis is written from the perspective of a professional, not from the perspective of a single street child.


Our approach to street children, in my opinion, should be rights-based rather than welfare-based. It is critical to acknowledge that these children, like all children, have a fundamental right to protection, a safe environment, an education, and health care. An integrated and comprehensive programme (education, health, nutrition, and legal assistance) must be devised to overcome any economic, mental, or physical barriers they may have met at the regional level. A system must be put in place to provide education and health care to these youngsters while keeping their lifestyle in mind; a residential school where all of their needs are met while necessary safety precautions are taken could be an option. In addition, community awareness campaigns regarding economic and political rights are required, as are sensitization courses for police officers to better equip them to deal with these children.


ENDNOTES


https://hrdi.in/street-children-a-socio-legal-issue-in-india/

https://www.makatimed.net.ph/news-and-exhibits/news/celebrating-national-childrens-month

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_neglect

https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/child_rights.html

https://lawtantra.org/2021/03/28/human-rights-of-street-children/

https://childrights.devise.org.in/child-abuse-en/concerns-of-street-children-a-human-rights-issue-in-india/

https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ijcyfs/article/view/18120/7634

https://www.actionaidindia.org/blog/child-protection-laws-in-india/amp/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/children%27s_rights

https://www.childlineindia.org/a/issues/homeless-children

https://osf.io/3uby9/download/?format=pdf



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