Lahore has become home to runaway children who are often the victims of emotional and physical abuse and never-ending labour
Along the banks of the Ravi, in the bustling lanes of androon Lahore, street children push carts and carry bricks around as if they had outgrown their tiny frames to support their families, earning and learning tough lessons before age.
Vulnerabilities exploited and mistreated; they bear the burdens of life with uncanny strength. Weathering the chilly winters on railway lines, they remain resilient in the face of adversity. But deep down, the child inside gurgles at the first chance of play. The river water, the local canal that replenishes their spirits in the summer heat, drowns them too. Some are found, others lost forever.
There are an estimated 1.5 million street children in Pakistan — a startling figure rising daily. Many poverty-stricken families are forced to push their young children into the streets to make both ends meet. Finding shelter and food at the many shrines, Lahore has become home to several runaway children. Victims of emotional and physical abuse, these children often find their lives entangled in a web of poverty, misery, disease and never-ending labour.
To break the endless cycle of abuse and exploitation, an effective and immediate intervention by policymakers and civil society is needed.