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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           

Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Pakistan, an impoverished and underdeveloped country, has suffered from decades of internal political disputes, low levels of foreign investment, and declining exports of manufactures.

Poverty levels decreased by 10% since 2001, and Islamabad steadily raised development spending in recent years.

Inflation remains the top concern among the public, jumping from 7.7% in 2007 to 20.8% in 2008, primarily because of rising world fuel and commodity prices.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Pakistan

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Pakistan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Caring for children

The News International, January 28, 2008

[accessed 30 June 2011]

The rise in incidents of street crime in Karachi and other cities of Pakistan has been the subject of a report released this week by a local NGO. What the report highlights is the growing number of street children involved in this activity. This is cause for alarm. There has been a significant rise in the number of street children, particularly in Karachi says the report adding that the reasons for children running away from their homes include domestic violence, sexual abuse and corporal punishment at schools, especially madressahs. This is an issue that has to be dealt in a proactive manner. It may be noted that street children end up joining gangs which offer them protection in return for working on the streets. The gangs force the children into prostitution and crime. There has been a rise in child prostitution in the cities as a consequence of this.  Also, incidents of petty crime have also risen as children are forced to beg, steal and borrow to retain their gang membership. Many of the children also turn to drugs and other substance abuse which only complicates the problem. sccp

Plight of street children worsens

The Nation, Karachi, April 25, 2008

[accessed 14 October 2012]

The report indicated that street children are the victims of unplanned economic growth, war, poverty, domestic violence and the violence at schools and madrassas, he said.  It was mentioned that majority of street children are in the age of 13 to 18 years (79.03%) followed by those in the age group of 9 to 12 years (15.22%) and up to 8 years old (5.71%). Most of them belong to Punjabi community followed by Urdu, Pashto, Burmese and Bengalese. The research revealed that majority of street children is either orphans or affectees of broken families

Majority of street children use drugs as 92% of them admitted that they use various kinds of drugs however 8% denied any use of drugs at any stage of their lives. About 75% of the respondents admitted that they smoke cigarettes, 70% use charas, 66% inhale glue and I5% use heroine. After having drug a majority of 66% respondents admitted experiencing violence.

Depression is very common among street children and, while talking about the high occurrence of physical, emotional and sexual violence, 66% of the respondents admitted that they self-inflected themselves while 26% denied and 8% didnt give any response. About 85% cut with blades and knives while 15% burn themselves.

Street Children and child abuse

The Justice Foundation, Pakistan

[accessed 1 July 2011]

While most child workers have homes to return, the street children are completely alone and at the mercy of their employers, and circumstances night and day. Their number of meals is one to three daily, often getting leftover from the restaurants and eating-places in the areas they hang around. Many are also found in the vicinity of religious shrines where people donate food for the poor.

When these innocent children leave their homes whatsoever is the reason, they do not expect or anticipate the dire consequences. When they become exposed to the outer world they come to know how cruel and corrupt it is. They are at the mercy of criminals, drug addicts, traffickers and the police.

This is the most vulnerable group to Child Sexual Abuse. They are forcefully involved in it by the organized crime network, and latter it becomes a means of survival in the streets. Their erratic existence some times produces distortion of the mind in the younger children who lose track of time, and distance, they do not know how long they are wandering. The unhygienic living and eating patterns of these children lead them to wards variety of health problems, like malnutrition bacterial and parasitic infections, skin ailments due to exposure to the extreme conditions of weather. Studies show that among the most serious threats to the health of street children is their high degree of the exposure to drugs and sexual abuse. They use cigarettes, alcohol and different drugs. Drugs that are easily available are solvents, marijuana, crack and glue. This is a new observed phenomenon of intoxication in the street children. These children also have a higher risk of acquiring STD and HIV because of their exploitation by AID sufferers, junkies and abusers.

They are often looked upon as delinquents, so nobody is willing to employ them in their homes and workplaces. This rejection from the society has an effect on the society. They develop anti social behavior, become criminals abusers, addicts, molesters, robbers, or drug traffickers just at the age of 16 to 18 years. They have no faith in humanity, no obligation. They know no law, no education, no system, no future and no life.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 15 December 2010]

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - The provincial government of the Punjab is making efforts to improve education and stem the flow of yearly dropouts, estimated at four million. Programs include free textbooks through grade 5, hiring 16,000 additional teachers, stipends to support literacy projects for girls, and the establishment of a new district-level monitoring team. The Northwest Frontier Province also provides free textbooks through grade five.  The Central Zakat Council administers 56 vocational training centers in the Punjab. Students receive a monthly stipend for attending and a tool allowance of Rs. 5,000 (USD 87) upon completion of the course.  Due to critical needs in its education system, the Government of Pakistan is receiving intensified support from the World Bank in order to expedite its eligibility for fast track financing for the Education for All program.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - According to a foreign aid organization, of the 18 million children between the ages of 5 and 9, only 42 percent were in school. Less than half of children who enrolled completed more than five years of education. Out of every 100 children who enrolled, only 6 completed grade 12.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 3 October 2003

[accessed 15 December 2010]

[78] The Committee expresses its concern at the increasing number of street children and the vulnerability of these children to violence, torture, sexual abuse and exploitation, the lack of a systematic and comprehensive strategy to address the situation and protect these children, and the very poor registration of missing children by the police.

The brave tender souls

Experience by Salman Nizami, Greater Kashmir, 28 October 2010

[accessed Oct. 29, 2010]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

The weather has suddenly turned colder in valley. The sun is hidden behind the clouds and the jagged peaks of the mountains which overlook the city are thick with snow. The street children are sheltering from the chill - huddling in doorways. One boy I often see in the morning charging around near the guest house in Shalimar where I was stayed covers his head with his ragged and blackened jacket to give himself some relief from the cold. There are numerous children who wait outside the guest house hoping for some work with me on the laptop, According to them working on laptop means earning good money. Most of them are contract labourers, shoe shiners, handicraft, fruit, vegetable vendor boys and I have got to know a number of them.

There is Ibrahim whose serious face contrasts with his pink Mickey Mouse baseball cap, and Irfaan who is painfully thin, and constantly asks the same question: "Mister, how are you?" And then there is Wajid, with his brown curly mop of hair and cheeky smile. My favourite is Aabid, a shy boy, who talks slowly in Kashmiri language. His sombre expression belies his young age just 13. They all have similar tales, a father dead due to the Kashmir conflict, numerous brothers and sisters, and a family dependent on their meagre earnings for their daily bread.

Male prostitution, a hidden shame: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

Fawad Ali Shah, Daily Times, Karachi, January 13, 2009\01\13\story_13-1-2009_pg12_9

[accessed 30 June 2011]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

Despite the fact that the phenomenon is increasing by the minute, no government body or NGO has conducted a survey to find out exactly how many men are in this business.

However, he said that there was a need for the collection of the exact numbers of males in the prostitution business as well as their customers to spread awareness about the diseases that sprout from the phenomenon. “There are almost 30,000 street children in the country, who are usually the victims of sexual abuse, as time progresses these children are so used to being exploited that they decide to use the exploitation to earn quick money,” he added. Male-prostitutes are without a doubt spreading many diseases however, no one cares about it, as the issue for most people is non-existent, Dharejo adds.

Development: Protecting Pakistan’s childrenPunjab Child Helpline (1121)

Syed Mohammad Ali, Daily Times, December 09, 2008\12\09\story_9-12-2008_pg3_3

[accessed 1 July 2011]

Punjab is the only government to have established a Child Protection and Welfare Bureau and Child Courts. CPWB and its branches are operating now in Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan and Faisalabad, and it is in the process of setting up brances in Sialkot and Bahawalpur. CPWB claims that it has rescued nearly 10,000 street children and nearly 9,000 of them have been reunited with their parents since 2005. CPWB is also aiming to support 10,000 families of street children without bread-earners. A child helpline (1121) is also available which can be called to report destitute or street children engaged in begging or drug abuse.

HIV/AIDS increasing in country

Amer Malik, The News International, Lahore, December 01, 2008

[accessed 30 June 2011]

Most of the 15,000-20,000 estimated child sex workers present in Lahore live in areas near bus stands and railway station. Male child prostitution is more common than any other form of commercial sexual exploitation in Pakistan.

Though the trend of selling organs (kidney.) for cash does not seem to have caught hold in Lahore or was not reported, quite a few children were aware of the fact that they could sell their blood for money if the need arose. The limited blood screening facilities make such practice extremely unsafe and can spread HIV/AIDS on a rapid scale. Though not a single child admitted to resorting to this practice, they had come to know about this through adult drug addicts.

In Pakistan, the estimated population aged below 18 years is 71 million, and 3.6 million children are involved in child labour. About 1.2 million children are on the streets in Pakistan’s large cities, working as beggars, vendors or shoeshine boys.

Incidents of child abuse rarely reported

Irfan Aligi, Daily Times, Karachi, November 04, 2008\11\04\story_4-11-2008_pg12_11

[accessed 30 June 2011]

“We have conducted a study on violence against street children and the data we have collected is quite shocking, and what is most appalling is that children studying at religious seminaries also fall victim to sexual violence,” claimed Habib. He added that it is common practice amongst parents, especially from the lower strata of the society, prefer to send their children to Madressahs as compared to formal schooling systems.

According to the study, 21 percent of Madressah students have been sexually abused by their teachers. Fifty-two percent of students were sexually harassed, 28 percent had complained of unpleasant touching and 20 percent complained of forced sex, said Habib.

Almost ninety percent of sexually violent acts against children occur on the streets, seven percent of the children denied any sexual abuse on the streets and three percent of these children had no idea about any such happenings. Thirty-three percent of the children who were sexually abused on the streets revealed that they were abused by people in police departments, while 22 percent of them held workers of political, social and religious parties responsible, claimed Habib.

This is not the end of the shocking list, as shopkeepers, strangers, gang leaders, private security guards and drivers were also held responsible for sexual violence. Twenty percent of the children reported that 20 percent of strangers, 12 percent of shopkeepers, 11 percent of gang leaders, 14 percent of private security guards and 22 percent drivers were among the perpetuators of sexual violence against them. sccp

Child abuse mushrooming as shops offering ‘services’ spring up

Qadeer Hussain, The News International, Karachi, November 01, 2008

[accessed 30 June 2011]

Tauqeer went to school for a while but soon developed a habit of running away from home. In the beginning, he started selling tissue papers at Sea View and earned Rs100 to Rs120 daily.  However, two years ago, one of his friends, Naveed (not his real name) asked him to visit Jahangir Park, near the Pedestrian Bridge, (which does not exist now), “to earn more money.”  According to Tauqeer, the world of the Pedestrian Bridge “was altogether a different world.” This was the meeting point for male child prostitutes and their clients.

According to Tauqeer, more than 300 children are engaged in this area alone. “There are two categories of children involved. A majority are street children who earn their livelihood through this mean. Then there are kids who belong to poor families and visit the bridge to earn some extra money,” he says. sccp

Two million youth in Karachi drug addicts

Pakistan Press International PPI, Karachi, October 26, 2008

[accessed 14 October 2012]

In Karachi the main addiction is of Hashish, because this drug is easily available at every nook and corner of the city. The main trafficking areas of hashish are Chanessar Goth, Dhobi Ghat and Massan near Keamair, he said.  In Karachi more than 25000 children are living on streets and they are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, as they are also involved in sexual activities, he said, adding that 74 % of these street children are addicts. He said drug supply is available all around the city through those street children.

PAKISTAN: Return of "lost" boys highlights the plight of street children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Karachi, 22 September 2008

[accessed 10 March 2015]

Asif, 16, was among 53 "lost" boys, aged between eight and 16, who boarded the bus on the morning of 16 August to return to his parents' house.

Asif remembers he had four siblings and cannot wait to go home. "I think I will be able to recognise them once I see them," he says. But he was just nine when he got lost, in a market, and eventually found himself in Karachi.

NUMBERS RISING - Social workers say Pakistan has a large population of runaway or lost kids, estimating their number at more than 70,000. Navaid Hasan Khan of Azad Foundation, an organisation working with street children, estimates there are between 13,000 and 15,000 in Karachi alone and the number is increasing. The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, estimates there are 10,000 in Karachi.

Many of the parents who took back the children "were ecstatic to see them, but they told us they will send them back to us as it means one less mouth to feed", he said.

'Rat people' forced to beg on Pakistan's streets

Agence France-Presse AFP, Gujrat, Pakistan, Aug 1, 2008

[accessed 15 December 2010]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

"Some of these children, the handicapped ones especially, are accompanied by relatives," he told AFP. "But begging gangs also look for poor parents who will sell them because they are a burden to feed and shelter."  Sohail said his department had busted more than 30 gangs across the province involved in exploiting street children, some of which had broken the limbs of children so that they would earn more as beggars. htsc

Deadly ‘token’ heroin emerges as Karachi’s drug of choice

DAWN/The News International, Karachi, 3 July 2008

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

Over the past four months, newly-introduced cheap, substandard heroin has proved to be fatal to child drug addicts on the streets. The new brand of heroin, also known among the children as “token” or “Sanghara,” is widely available throughout the city at Rs12 per sachet.  Children who previously used the well-known glue Samad Bond are the biggest “token” addicts. They can no longer afford Samad Bond. A pack that cost Rs75 in 2000 is now being traded at Rs170.  “What other choice have I got?” says Tufail, a child on the streets who switched to token after the price of Samad Bond went up.  Token is the cheapest option available. It is also one of the most lethal.

According to a spokesman of the Edhi Foundation, children living on the streets who are also drug addicts die before reaching the age of 23. Over the past six months, he said, 145 bodies of heroin addicts had been picked up off the streets. Forty percent were children.

City faces alarming rise in addicts, juvenile beggars

Shafi Baloch, The Nation, Karachi, July 03, 2008

[accessed 14 October 2012]

Owing to the rampant unemployment of their parents due to off-fishing season, a number of fishermen’s children have started involving in begging and drug trafficking and this trend has resulted in a sharp rise in the number street children making their percentage up to 40 % in the metropolitan.

PAKISTAN: 1.2 Million Street Children Abandoned and Exploited

Asia Child Rights ACR, Weekly Newsletter Vol. 4, No. 18 (04 May 2005)

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

An estimated 1.2 million children are on the streets of Pakistan's major cities and urban centres, constituting the country's largest and most ostracised social group. These include 'Runaway' children who live or work on the street, as well as the minority that return to their families at the end of the day with their meagre earnings.

"World Vision is gravely concerned with their growing numbers. Children are turningto the streets amidst increasing poverty, unemployment, swelling family size and social disintegration seen in abuse in schools, as well as domestic violence, neglect and family breakdown," said World Vision Country Director, Sigurd Hanson.

"Street wise" as early as four, these children beg and scavenge around rubbish dumps or industrial waste sites or take on menial jobs as cart pushers or dish washers, working 12-15 hours a day to earn around 75 rupees or US.25- enough to buy a meal if they are fortunate. Most survive by prostituting themselves, stealing or smuggling, making them vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Jaundice and liver or kidney disorders. A large proportion sniffs cheap, readily available solvents to starve off hunger, loneliness and fear.

Seminar on corporal punishment: 35,000 school students drop out every year

Daily Times, Islamabad, May 01, 2008\05\01\story_1-5-2008_pg11_4

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

Thirty-five thousand students drop out of high school every year in the country due to corporal punishment in schools and homes, said Qindeel Shujaat, Executive Director, Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC), in a seminar “Media Consultation on Child Rights and Protection Issues” on Wednesday.

Shujaat said corporal punishment in schools and homes, a culturally accepted form of child abuse, had resulted in high dropout rate from schools and ever-growing number of runaway children on the streets.  Shujaat said Pakistan had one of the highest dropout rate from schools in the world that is 50 per cent and there were about 70,000 street children nationwide.

25,000 street children vulnerable to diseases

The News International, 08 April 2008

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

They urged the government to create awareness on HIV and Aids and other sex related diseases to save street children.  Speakers said more than 25,000 children were living on streets in the city. They said there were some 70,000 children living on the streets in the country. An estimated 7,000 children live on the streets in Lahore, 10,000 in Faisalabad, 2,500 in Quetta, 3,000 in Rawalpindi and 5,000 in Peshawar.  Nazra Jahan of Sparc said street children were one of the most vulnerable groups for all forms of exploitation. They were at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS because of their early exposure to both heterosexual and homosexual practices.

Children on an empty stomach on empty streets

Amar Guriro, Daily Times, Karachi, December 31, 2007\12\31\story_31-12-2007_pg12_4

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

At a time when all the commerce in Karachi is facing a shutdown and there is an acute shortage of basic necessities in the city like food and fuel, no one is finding the going tougher than the street-children of Karachi.  “I have not had a single bite to eat since yesterday morning as I was unable to find anything,” said nineteen-year-old Sajid, whose sustenance comes from the charity given at the shrines and different hotels of Karachi.

9,000 sexually-abused street-children in City

[accessed 30 June 2011]

UNICEF Programme Officer Shamshad Qureshi announced the results of a UNICEF survey that there are 10, 000 street children in Lahore, out of which 9,000 children have been sexually abused. He said UNICET could reach only 3,000 sexually abused children and rehabilitate them by giving them vocational training, psychological aid and financial support to their parents. The study also revealed that 51 percent of street children suffered HIV through injections in Sargodha. sccp

School with no buildings gives hope

Umber Khairi, BBC News, Rawalpindi, 15 October 2007

[accessed 1 July 2011]

Tucked away in a quiet corner in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi is a school that is creating an astonishing change in the lives of the city's street children.

City centres thronged by street children

Terence J Sigamony, Daily Times, Rawalpindi, October 01, 2007\10\01\story_1-10-2007_pg11_8

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 26 December 2016]

Children at Pirwadahi and Faizabad are living in unhygienic and squalid conditions. They live in under-construction buildings, hotel basements and verandas of bus stands. Majority of such children has come to the city with expectations to fend for themselves or their families through various occupations but after arriving here, they discovered that streets were not paved with gold.

Saiqa Ashraf, a psychologist working on child sexual abuse, said these children become criminals, terrorists, revolutionaries, drug addicts and abusers. “They are starving and ignorant, destined to become thieves or victims of child sexual abuse. The girls become prostitutes but there is also male prostitution. The boys are uncontrollably violent and have lost the ability to feel emotions such as love. For the most part they are amoral,” she commented.

Curbing beggary among children: CDGR to open seven child protection centres

Terence J Sigamony, Daily Times, Rawalpindi, August 28, 2007\08\28\story_28-8-2007_pg11_5

[accessed 1 July 2011]

The City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) with the help of the Punjab government will set up seven protection centres for street children below the age of 14, City District Nazim Raja Javed Ikhlas told Daily Times on Monday.  He said the RCDG had rented seven houses in Morgha and Kotha Kalan for opening the child protection centres, which would soon be inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. An army of beggars has swarmed the length of Rawalpindi city owing to the government’s failure to launch a crackdown on them or provide them with alternative means of livelihood. The beggars throng shopping centres, streets, roads, restaurants and food outlets, with their number swelling day by day. Begging women, children and disabled men and women of all ages can be seen pestering motorists and pedestrians at intersections, outside mosques and markets from early morning till late at night.

Shelter for street children arranged

The News International, August 26, 2007

[accessed 26 December 2016]

A local NGO Sehar foundation has arranged temporary shelters for the protection of street children against torrential rains at different marriage halls in Karachi.

The management of these halls not only agreed that their spaces be used for this purpose but also took upon the responsibility to arrange meals for these children.

Pakistan has highest infant mortality rate in South Asia: SPARC

Daily Times, Lahore, June 30, 2007\06\30\story_30-6-2007_pg7_23

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

The report gave a dark picture of the Pakistani children’s condition. About 6.463 million children did not go to school, which was the second largest number of such children in a country, it said. In Karachi alone the number of street children was 25,000 and almost four children were sexually molested daily.

Pahchaan planning drop-in centre for street kids

Daily Times, Lahore, May 16, 2007\05\16\story_16-5-2007_pg7_37

[accessed 1 July 2011]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

Dr Naeem Zafar, president of Pehchaan, said the NGO was providing several services including food and shelter, skill building courses, hygiene courses, rest and recreation, psycho-social counselling, detoxification and legal protection. Also, the organisation was educating 200 street and working children in the city.

Police encouraged to cooperate with street children

The News International, Karachi, March 3, 2007

[accessed 26 December 2016]

A situation analysis of Karachi conducted by The Azad Foundation further revealed the criminal record of street children. More than half of them had a criminal record. On average, approximately 3,500 street children have remained in police custody for 2-7 days. Data also showed that more than 3,000 were charged of theft, 3200 were arrested for drug addiction, and more than 2,000 claimed to be arrested without any reason.

Horrific fate awaits children spurned by society

Aroosa Masroor Khan, The News, Karachi, February 22, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

Consequently, an increasing trend in sex exploitation was also witnessed over the years. As disclosed by the street children near Bahadurabad and Allahwala Chowrangi, they continue to be harassed and sexually abused at the hands of passers-by. Due to this fear, these children prefer spending most of their time at drop-in centres that are operational during the day. “We feel more scared at night because that is when truck drivers and policemen harass us, but this centre is helpful because they teach us self-defence techniques,” says 13-year-old Umair Ali who has been living on the street for four years after he ran away from home because his family pressurised him to get a job.

Most of the children, spotted in Saddar, Karimabad, Tariq Road, Kala Pul and parts of Clifton, when refused job opportunities, resort to pick-pocketing or sell sex for their day-to-day survival. The money earned is then spent on addictives like cigarettes, drugs and inhalants, mostly glues such as ‘Samad Bond’. “There are a lot of small hotels and restaurants that offer us food so that is never an issue for us. We don’t earn to make a living. The streets are where we spend our lives. It’s the drugs we need money for,” adds Umair, who further revealed that he was addicted to glue sniffing, a habit he is unwilling to give up. htsccp

Findings show dismal state of children in country

Mohammad Kamran, Daily Times, ISLAMABAD, February 19, 2007\02\19\story_19-2-2007_pg11_1

[accessed 2 July 2011]

Child rights groups have estimated that over 50,000 children live on the streets of Pakistan, while most of the juvenile population continues to be vulnerable to bonded labour, harassment, sexual abuse and trafficking, and lacks access to health, education and other basic needs.

Many street children are also addicted to drugs and have been sexually assaulted. It has been reported that 56 percent of street children run away from their homes due to domestic violence, 22 percent because of hostile behaviour of their parents and 12 percent due to their parents’ drug addiction.

Parents renting children out to gangs: Report

Internews, Karachi, January 29, 2007

[accessed 27 December 2016]

Referring to such reports, he said as early as four, these children beg and scavenge around rubbish dumps or industrial waste sites and took on menial jobs as cart-pushers or dishwashers working 12-15 hours a day to earn around Rs75 — enough to buy a meal.

A report compiled by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) said most children survive by prostituting themselves and stealing, making them vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/Aids.  “They are also at high risk from health problems such as tuberculosis, jaundice and kidney disorders.”

The report suggests that 83 per cent of street children were sniffing glue between the ages of eight to nineteen. Some 54 per cent left home at age 10-12 while 45 per cent children living on the streets are involved in crimes and 49 per cent are at high risk of HIV/Aids.

Pakistan street kids plagued by glue sniffing

Waheed Khan, Reuters, KARACHI, Jan 8, 2007

[accessed 2 July 2011]

The Pakistan Medical Association says substance abuse among street children has reached alarming levels.  "If more is not done soon, Pakistan is heading for a street children hooked on glue crisis on the scale of other countries like Morocco and Brazil," said Qaiser Sajjad, the association's general-secretary. There are about 14,000 street children in Karachi and most are sniffing glue, said Aksa Zainab, a social worker who helps street kids at a drop-in centre operated by the Azad Foundation in cooperation with UNICEF.

Vulnerable and helpless on the street

Amir Zia, The News International, December 20, 2006

[accessed 27 December 2016]

A majority of them are drug addicts. The most popular and affordable of the durg is a type of glue -- used mostly in home repair and maintenance -- which these children inhale by putting it on a piece of cloth. One can see young boys sniffing this glue openly on the streets and pavements that according to one user, "tingles nose and make one slightly drowsy." The use of other drugs including hashish, and even heroin are also rampant among many of these streets children.

Organised gangs of criminals -- peddling drugs or operating begging rackets -- take these children under their wings and use them in criminal activities. Many children also resort on their own to begging and petty crimes, raising enough money to buy themselves food and favourite drug.

Govt, masses urged to rehabilitate street urchins

[Last access date unavailable]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

Recalling an incident where a child was abducted from Data Darbar and admitted to a hospital, he said that one kidney of the child was removed in an operation. The matter was being probed by the authorities concerned, but the society at large was responsible for such incident.

Lahore’s street children find alternatives at UNICEF-supported centre

Mary de Sousa, United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, Lahore Pakistan, 8 November 2006

[accessed 2 July 2011]

Rehan, who may be “nearly 18,” does not have the physique of a teenage boy. That’s because Rehan is actually Rehana, a girl disguised as a boy to survive on the streets of Heera Mandi, Lahore’s red-light district.  “Can you imagine what would happen to me if I dressed as a girl?” she asks.

Street children in Pakistan at risk of contracting Aids

Internews, Islamabad, September 4, 2006

[accessed 2 July 2011]

The phenomenon of street children in Pakistan poses a complex social challenge, and these children are at the high risk of a myriad of physical and psychological problems as a result of both the circumstances that preceded their homelessness and the direct consequence of life on the streets.

Pakistan's 1.2 million street children abandoned & exploited

[accessed 2 July 2011]

 “Street wise” as early as four, these children beg and scavenge around rubbish dumps or industrial waste sites or take on menial jobs as cart pushers or dish washers, working 12-15 hours a day to earn around 75 rupees or US$1.25- enough to buy a meal if they are fortunate.  Most survive by prostituting themselves, stealing or smuggling, making them vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Jaundice and liver or kidney disorders.  A large proportion sniffs cheap, readily available solvents to starve off hunger, loneliness and fear.

Number of street children on the rise

Asia Child Rights ACR, Weekly Newsletter Vol.4, No. 25 (22 June 2005)

[accessed 2 July 2011]

[accessed 27 December 2016]

Living on the rough and tumble streets of Pakistan's port city of Karachi, 12-year-old Ashique knows all too well the harsh reality of life.  "I'm not afraid. I sleep with my friends," says the dark-haired youth, who was abandoned by his parents.  He told IRIN he dreams one day of attending school.

Karachi Has Largest Number Of Pakistan's Street Children

Indo-Asian News Service IANS, 5/8/2005

[accessed 2 July 2011]

Poverty and domestic physical and mental abuse "are the key factors that lead children to begin a life on the streets.  Be it economic or social factors, street children leave their homes for an uncertain future.  Many find work collecting waste paper, cleaning cars, working as shoe shiners or in small eateries.  Some fall back on begging, pick-pocketing or offer themselves to sex perverts, while others end up as drug addicts.  They use inhalants that are cheap and easily available but cause irreversible brain damage.

Street Freedom - Pakistan

Mohammad Anwar, DAWN, 12 December 2002

[accessed 22 August 2011]

[posted Dec 13th, 2002, 06:22 PM]

Thirteen year-old Zahid spends his nights at Cantt railway station in Karachi. He makes his living selling whatever waste paper and bottles he can collect and is desperate to find shelter, not to mention someone who would care for him.  Zahid has been on the streets for three years. "I have nobody. I came to Karachi with an uncle who promised me a job, but I was left here to fend for myself."

Thousands of Pakistani Street Children Addicted to Glue

Ahmad Naeem Khan, OneWorld South Asia, Lahore, 29 June 2004

[accessed 2 July 2011]

They may not have access to drugs like heroin and marijuana, but that doesn't stop thousands of street children in Pakistan from getting high -- with easily available glue that often destroys addicts' health.

Information about Street Children - Pakistan [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for South Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 12- 14 December 2001, Colombo, Sri Lanka

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 2 July 2011]

Karachi is one of the largest and fastest growing mega-cities in the world. High population growth rate combined with weak economy is leading to increased poverty. Urbanization and environmental degradation have led to widespread displacement of rural populations to urban areas - leading in turn to social tensions and a breakdown in family structures, thus contributing to the increase in street children.

Street Children and Juvenile Justice in Pakistan [PDF]

Pervaiz Tufail (AMAL Human Development Network) with the assistance of Thomas Feeny and Marie Wernham (Consortium for Street Children CSC), Spring 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 2 July 2011]

In his trial, Iqbal made a point of claiming that as no one ever notices when a street child disappears, he could have gone on to kill 500 before anyone took action.  The revelation of Iqbal's horrific crimes, committed with two teen accomplices, woke up human rights groups in Pakistan to the plight of street children in Pakistan. It brought home with a bang how limited society's safeguards for the children were and with what gruesome consequences.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Pakistan",, [accessed <date>]