GUWAHATI, Nov 21 – Though a lot has been said about ensuring the basic rights of all children, unfortunately children living in the poverty pockets of the capital city have been deprived of even their basic rights.
One of the issues plaguing the gateway to the North East is the growth of slums created by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. These areas are impoverished, often neglected and disadvantaged, usually troubled by a disproportionately huge magnitude of crime. Slum areas in the city are rife with myriad problems and one of the most vulnerable groups among the slum dwellers are the children.
As per a study conducted by UTSAH, a child rights agency in Guwahati, people in the age group of 0 to 18 years in the poverty pockets have very limited or no access to education and healthcare.
“Slum children are victims of various kinds of abuse and violence and are involved in some kind of labour. The unorganised conditions in which these children live impede their healthy growth and development, which leads to various kinds of violations and failings that are antithesis to the best interests of the children as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989,” said Miguel Das Queah, founder chairperson, UTSAH.
According to a Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) survey conducted in 2014, Guwahati has 217 slum areas in the notified and non-notified categories combined. The population of these slum areas has been estimated to be approximately 1,39,296. The number of households has been estimated to be around 26,090.
“Children have no safe or permanent shelter, have minimal education, are subject to some kind of labour, have no access to safe water or sanitation, are inflicted with various forms of diseases, are malnourished, have been victims of alcoholism or substance abuse, have come into conflict with law and most importantly, have been subject to some form of violence and abuse, either inside the house or outside,” said Queah explaining the situation of the slum children.
It needs to be mentioned that UTSAH had studied the living condition at Fancy Bazaar Gate 3 that covered a total of 95 households with 171 children.
The study found that child labour is most prevalent (80 per cent) among children in the 11-13 year age group. It was found that 87 out of the 171 children were out of school i.e., 51 per cent of the total children were out of school.