INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR STREET CHILDREN AND WHAT IT REALLY MEANS
Are you aware that there is an International Day for street children? And that it is takes place on 12th April? The First International Day for street children was launched on 14th April, 2011 with an aim of providing a platform on which Street Children around the world can voice their rights.
But what does this day really mean for Kamau*, aged ten (10) years, living on the streets of Thika, having been born on the streets and left to fend for himself at a tender age? Who at just six (6) years old was forced into substance abuse?
Or for the other children just like Kamau with no homes, no roofs over their heads and are forced to sleep on the streets? Children with no food and are left with no choice but to live on leftovers collected from garbage bins? Who have no access to medical care or who are constantly exposed to sexual exploitation and abuse, substance abuse and deprivation? Does this day come with an array of hope that the street children’s troubles are approaching resolution?
The preamble of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) recognizes that there are children who live in exceptional conditions and as such should be accorded special consideration. Street children are children too who deserve to have their rights, as children and as vulnerable children recognized and protected. Although Street children cannot be viewed in isolation to other children; it is important to note that in some ways, they are disadvantaged to their peers. Their emotional and physical growth is hampered by an unbalanced, traumatic emotional and unfriendly environment
The CRC provides various protections for the child which includes; protection of the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation as well as sexual abuse. The Convention further states that all parties to it shall ensure that they take appropriate measures to promote the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
This day is therefore an opportunity to send a message and remind the society, civil society organizations and the government of the multiple deprivations and violations of the street children’s rights and the need to stop and protect them. That we need a number of protection systems put in place. A day to remind these institutions and ourselves of the need to go back to the basics, understand and find the underlying cause as to why there are street children and why their number keeps on increasing.
As we celebrate the International Day of Street Children, let us all listen and act to the plights of the street child for change and a better tomorrow for Kamau, Otieno, Kambua and all other Street children all over the world.