Tuesday August 09, 2022

Thousands of street children at high risk of exploitation

August 03, 2022

PESHAWAR: Authorities are collecting data of the children who are begging in the streets to take measures in the next step so they can be protected from child abuse and various kind of crimes.

After the recent incidents of sexual assaults and murder of children in Peshawar Saddar, the data of all the children who are begging in different busy markets, squares, roads and streets is being collected.

The purpose of the exercise, the officials said, was to ensure they remain safe from sexual abuse as well arrangements can be made so they go to schools or get skilled training and become useful citizens.

“We are collecting data of all such children that would be provided to the administration and all departments concerned. The government has been approached to take solid and durable measures for their welfare,” Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Ijaz Khan told The News.

He said all the police stations have been tasked to identify such children, their age, their family members and the reasons that forced them to beg.

After the recent incidents of rape and murder of children who were not accompanied by their parents, a number of people expressed their concern over safety of thousands of children in Peshawar and other cities, especially girls between 10 and 15 years of age, who are begging till late.

Three children were raped and two were killed by a man in Saddar in July after the accused found them alone. He tried to kill the third one as well but she survived the strangulation attempt.

The incidents spread terror among the parents and children while many expressed their concern over the safety of street children, including many female who are seen on roads and streets, asking for financial help.

The government as well as police and district administration are being asked to take measures so these children remain safe from any such attempt due to their vulnerability.

The data collected shows many of these children go home alone and majority of them return late. These children included locals, Afghans as well as many from other districts and provinces.

“A 12-year-old girl told us that she as well as her sister, 11, and brother, 7, are forced by their mother to beg in the streets to run their kitchen. They said their father is a drug addict and they run their kitchen with alms,” said an official, who was collecting data of such children in Saddar. All the three children informed they return home on foot late in the night after collecting money that is enough to arrange for their needs.

“In one area, there were seven siblings who were being forced by their parents to go out and bring money. They were all between the age of 4 and 15, having no other option but to ask people for financial help,” said an official.

He said that apart from abuse, many of such kids are also vulnerable to drug addiction and other crimes since they can be easily misused by the criminals. Besides, there are beasts like the one in Saddar who look for their prey and attack soft targets.

Many of these children, especially girls in their teens, are vulnerable to various crimes as they are mostly alone and some remain away from their homes till late night, mostly begging outside restaurants and shopping centers.

“Some solid and durable measures are needed by the government, the social welfare department, district administration and society to ensure the safety of all such children and make them useful citizens,” said a philanthropist, Arbab Bilal Ahmad.

There are children who are really deserving while there are also a large number of kids who are from the habitual beggar families and are forced by their parents instead of sending them to schools.