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Child Protection Programme

For Street Children in India, the street (in the widest sense of the word, including unoccupied dwellings, wasteland, etc.) has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood; and who is inadequately protected, supervised, or directed by responsible adults.


It is difficult to count the number of street children living in India because of their floating (moving often) nature, but total number of street children in India ranges from 400,000 to 800,000 and in Kolkata this number is not less than 100,000.


As street children must provide for themselves, work is a very important aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, working conditions for street children are often very poor because they are confined to working in the informal sector, which is unregulated by the government. Because of street children’s lack of protection from a family and the law, employers often exploit them, making them virtual prisoners, sometimes withholding pay, and abusing them. The money street children earn that is not spent on food is usually quickly spent on other things because older children and police frequently steal their money. Many street children spend 300 rupees a month on movies, though older children also use their money to buy cigarettes, chewing tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Street children in India are frequently exposed to abuse and extortion. Because they have no social status and no adults to protect them, street children identify being physically threatened and intimidated by adults as the one factor that contributes most to the misery of living on the streets.


One per cent of the city's street children (in the age group of 5-14) are HIV-positive, but were not aware of the fact that they were carrying the deadly virus, reveals a survey conducted by the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata. While around 4% suffered from other sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, nearly 10% of these youngsters faced sexual abuse before turning 16. Study reveals that 26% of male street children faced sexual abuse before they turned 15, 13% of the girls who faced abuse was above 15 years. Around 13% of the boys who visited sex workers suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. Less than half of the street children got two square meals a day, more than 85% slept in public places and earned less than Rs 1,000 a month. Substance abuse is extremely high like adhesives, brown sugar, cocaine and alcohol. Without any shelter or protection, these children will continue to be vulnerable.

To respond this problem, HOPE has set up and support


In last one year HOPE has spent 467,294€

392 119 boys and 250 girls, who are in need of care and protection, provided with safe shelter and physical, educational, and emotional support, who have been the victims of abuse, neglect or other tragic circumstances in order to strengthen them for the next phase of life. 23 children who are HIV/AIDS infected or affected have been supported.


349 All the children are studying in school

23 Receiving vocational training to achieve employability skill.

25 All the children are provided with psychological, recreational support, nutritional and health support.


Children in difficult circumstances suffer from deprivation, exploitation and neglect for no fault of their own and for reasons beyond their control. Neglect, abandonment, destitution, violence and sexual exploitation make a hell of their existence. The situation is even worse at night. At night they become more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking.


An important element of HOPE’s Child Protection Programme is NIGHT PATROL for child safety. This involves staffs and volunteers going down to high risk zones in ambulance to rescue child at risk or in need of care and protection. The organisation works closely with different levels of stakeholders to ensure better protection, support, rehabilitation and restoration.


The issue of child protection is a complex subject and needs a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach. Children have manifold needs starting from health, nutrition, care, protection, development, education, love, affection and recreation. Some children, like those affected by HIV/AIDS or disabilities, have special needs that should be taken care of.


45 children and 9 adults RESCUED and SUPPORTED


On 2nd January, the Night Round team of Hope Kolkata Foundation got an information from a volunteer (Bernie of Missionaries of Charity) that a boy was seriously sick at Sealdah station. After getting the information the team rushed the spot and identified the boy from Sealdah Station (platform number 1). During the identification, the team saw that the boy was in fever and intoxicated also. On that time he was not even in the position to speak. He was rescued and taken to the Sealdah General Railway Protection Force but they refused to lodge a general diary. From Sealdah police station the team took the boy and placed him at govt. hospital. The emergency ward gave huge support during that time and admitted him for his better treatment. One of the Doctor from the medical team told that, they will keep the boy under observation as his condition was very vulnerable. He also said that he has gone through prolong malnutrition and dehydration. The team also gave an intimation letter at Child Welfare Committee, and requested not to restore the child until proper identification of his family.


The health status of the unknown boy was deteriorating day by day after admission in the hospital. He was getting sicker and had some skin infections also. Then he was moved to Hope Hospital. Gradually he recovered from the infection and health hazards. He disclosed his identity, that his name is Md. Rohit from Chandannagar. As per the verbal statement of that child home visit was done and the family was traced. On 22th February the boy was restored. The family was very much happy to get him back. It was a joint victory for Night Watch team, Hope Hospital and Missionaries’ of Charity (who identified the child).


JOINED UP CONVERGENCE MODEL OF HOPE’S CHILD PROTECTION PROGRAMME

CRISIS INTERVENTION CENTRES (CIC) for Boys and Girls has provided emergency care, temporary shelter and support to children and adults who have been rescued through Night Patrolling


35 cases were supported in CIC – Girls and 28 in CIC – Boys.

Rehana Khatoon, a 13 year girl was found loitering around in the streets near Gariahat flyover area in distressed condition. She was identified and rescued by Night Petrol Team and brought to CIC Girls after finishing necessary legal procedures. She was taken to Hope hospital for treatment. She gave some detail about her parents. She was mentally not good and was in depressive stage. She didn’t respond to I.Q. test. Though attempt was taken thrice to find her parents but it was not possible as could give very little hint about her place; Rehana’s disability certificate was issued from Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy.


She has improved a lot during her stay in the Crisis Centre as could communicate properly and can do all the daily living activities. She attended the special educators class while her stay in the center. Her psychological condition has also improved a lot. She is placed at Interreligious Center of Development (ICOD) on 18/07/12 for her permanent shelter and rehabilitation.


In the streets of Kolkata there are thousands of women specially mothers with children are found wandering aimlessly or living in the streets lacking food, clothing, shelter, protection and medical care. They are either unwed mothers, abused by the family members, or are abandoned by their husbands. HOPE has set up MOTHER & CHILD CARE UNIT – a short stay home for abandoned mother with children to restore their rights.


Trafficking of women and children is a serious violation of human rights and punishable by law.  But in reality, trafficking is rampart in the State of West Bengal in India.  The trafficking is inter-district as well as inter-state. Cross border trafficking is also prevalent as West Bengal shares international borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. 

One of the sources of trafficking of women and children is from the Sunderbans area which consists of 19 blocks spread over the districts of South and North 24 Paraganas in West Bengal. There is extreme poverty among the people of this area. The primary occupation is agriculture. However, it is a mono-cropped area making people’s livelihood, season – dependent. This, along with loss of land due to encroachment of the river and sea, forces people to migrate, either temporarily or permanently to the nearest townships or big metropolis to find jobs. It has now increased manifold due to ‘Aila’ (a destructive high velocity typhoon in 2009) engulfing the Sundarban island in its most ferocious form. Along the border there is smuggling, drug peddling and other criminal activities. These criminal activities promote a nexus between smugglers of goods and traffickers of human beings. Illiteracy and lack of access to information are other factors that make people vulnerable to criminals.


Currently, there is no bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and India on prevention of trafficking. Trafficking of women and children is done under various pretexts. Women and children are contacted by middlemen with the lure of employment in towns and cities. Once they leave home they mostly do not maintain any link with the village. Marriage is another pretext. In rural West Bengal there is a trend of marriage with dowry (cash endowment). Parents are relieved if they can marry off their daughters without dowry. Lucrative offers come mostly from potential grooms from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They marry the girls and give some money to the poor parents and take the girl away. However, the connection between the girls and their families is lost after the girl reaches her marital home. Domestic violence to the children in their families due to severe poverty is also compelling them to accept lucrative offers. Simultaneously, it is important to note that teenagers get involved in dance groups to earn large amount of money and are lured to enjoy better lives and be able to support their families. Unfortunately, all this leads to such vulnerable teenagers being trafficked within or outside India.


HOPE is working in 4 trafficking prone blocks sharing border with Bangladesh. The model of the project:


CASE STUDY:

Shilpa Baidya (name changed), aged 16 years, lived with her family in Kakdwip. She was the eldest daughter to Shyamal Baidya, a daily wager. Shyamal struggled to provide the basic minimum of two meals a day to his family. Extreme poverty made Shilpa get a job as a domestic help in Rupali Dutta’s house,a neighbour of the Baidya family. Rupali eventually took all responsibilities of Shilpa. One day Shilpa received a phone cal from an unknown number and the person calling introduced himself as Swapan Das. He started calling Shilpa often and over the months the relationship grew. Shilpa fell in love with Swapan who promised to marry her and give her a better life. On January 06, 2013, Shilpa ran away and met Swapan at Kakswip market. They took a train to Howrah station and from there went to Kapasberiya, Haldia. They lodged in a hotel where Swapan took away all of Shilpa’s belongings and even her mobile phone. He then sold her to the hotel. Prakash, a relative of Shilpa’s former employer Rupali,and a resident of Haldia, one day saw Shilpa at the hotel. He immediately informed Rupali Dutta. Based on that information HCWS representatives contacted the Kakdwip Police and went to Kapasberiya to rescue Shilpa. On 24th January 2013, Shilpa was rescued and restored to her family by the joint effort of police and HCWS.