NEW DELHI: The voices from 1,580 families in 28 slums, resettlement and unauthorized colonies of Delhi speak in unison about vulnerability of their children and why they are more likely to be victims of violence and sexual abuse than a child living in a planned neighbourhood.
With 75% of the mothers labouring to run the house, the children in the age group of 0-6 years are usually left in the care of an older sibling or the neighbour. But with more and more cases of sexual abuse by known persons, the neighbourhood is no longer the safest option, says a survey by a network of grassroot NGOs working on issues of children under six in urban poor settlements of the capital.
The survey, carried out last year by the network Neenv (Delhi Forces), was followed up with public hearings in various settlements to lay bare the struggles of these people in bringing up their children.
Chirashree Ghosh from Mobile Creches, an NGO which has been working with children in resettlements for over two decades, pointed out that the survey and public hearings brought to fore the vulnerabilities of children in these pockets, home to 64% of Delhi’s population.
The survey also found that just 59% families owned a house. Worse still, only 57% owned pucca houses, reflecting the poor economic status of the families. Adding to the difficulties is the social scenario, with 66% families being nuclear, 67% children below 6 years and 76% working mothers labouring hard to earn their daily bread.
In such a scenario, inadequate anganwadi facilities make survival tough. The survey found that just 20% children were benefitted from anganwadi centres. About 20% children were left under the care of older siblings who are often made to drop out of school to manage the smaller children . Nearly 18% kids are left with neighbours and 5% taken along by mothers. It was also seen that 9% accidents of children took place in the absence of parents.
According to the women and child development ministry’s 2010-11 report , the Rajiv GandhiCreche Scheme had reached 5.83 lakh children in India and 7,700 in Delhi. It is estimated that there are 16 crore children under 6 years in India and six crores require care.
The public hearings also revealed that the most vulnerable among the migrants living in the slums are also the children.