There are an estimated 680,000 street children in Bangladesh, and more than half of them are believed to be in the capital, Dhaka. That number could reach 1.1 million by 2014, according to some estimates.
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One programme participant, 14-year-old Tania, has spent most of her life living on the streets.
“Dhaka has a large population, but everybody is not like us,” she said. “We have potential too, just like any other children, and we must get the opportunity to develop.”
Another participant, 16-year-old Riaz, found himself eking out a bare existence on the streets of Dhaka after he was abandoned by both his parents.
He says he is just one of the many children who “grow up alone without the love and affection of their parents, or opportunities to go to school or to have decent lives”. But Riaz hopes to learn some vocational skills so he can work in a garment factory.
Plan International, a child-centred community development organisation with operations in 48 developing countries, works in Dhaka on the risks of children living on the street. The organisation address unstable childhood, physical and sexual abuse by adults, harassment by law enforcement agencies and inadequate access to education and health care facilities.
Nadya Kassam, Plan’s Head of Global Advocacy said: “Street children are some of the most excluded in our societies. Often without carers, they can be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse – such as rape, kidnap, or being used for illegal and hazardous work.”
For more information, read the joint report on street children commissioned by Plan International and Consortium of Street Children.