Millions of children across the world are denied the opportunity to enjoy childhood and are still in search of basic necessities like food, education, shelter and safety. Child trafficking, child marriage, poverty, malnutrition and child labour are some of the main global Issues surrounding children.
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Child trafficking affects millions of children across the world. Children are bought and sold for various activities including forced labour. According to a 2012 report released by the International Labour Organization, 21 million people are trapped in forced labour across the world. Of the total, 5.5 million are below 18 years. Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia (COSA), Children of the Night, Called to Rescue, Love 146 and Maiti Nepal are some of the charities working to end child trafficking and exploitation across the world.
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Similarly, more than 700 million women marry before turning 18 and about 250 million get into wedlock before age 15, according to a data released by the UNICEF in 2014. Though efforts to end child marriage have been going, the custom is still prevalent in several parts of India. The after effects include early pregnancy, school dropout, violence, abuse and exposure to HIV and AIDS. Some of the charitable organisations trying hard to free young children from the clutches of early marriage include Girls Not Brides, Care and Breakthrough.
Poverty is another issue we need to take care of. About 1 billion in the world live in poverty, according to UNICEF. Poor nutrition claims 3.1 million young lives every year. In developing countries, about 100 million children are underweight and 66 million primary school children go hungry to school. Poor nutrition can damage the immune system and increase a child’s risk of contracting deadly diseases. It can also affect learning ability, cognitive and physical development of children.
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Some of the organisations fighting hunger and poverty include Action against Hunger, the U.N. World Food Programme and Bread for the World Institute. In India, apart from the government, charitable organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Annamrita, No Hungry Child, Annapoorna of Adamya Chetana distribute mid-day meals in schools. Initiative taken by these charitable organisations has helped fight hunger and improve nutritional status of underprivileged children in India.
It’s also shocking to know that about 100 million children are homeless and live on streets. The reasons differ from war or poverty to harmful diseases. Some of the children are orphans, while some live in streets to support their families. Street children, according to UNICEF, are the most difficult to protect and provide education and care. They face risks from various sources including the police and are sometimes murdered as part of the cleaning up of the city. Charitable organisations like Youth Advocate Program International (YAP International), Consortium for Street Children (CSC), Dreamz (Mumbai), Support (Mumbai) and Railway Children have helped improve the situation and given new meanings to the lives of street children across the world.
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In addition to this, millions of children today are trapped in child labour. Children are often forced to work in several dangerous environments. A data from UNICEF shows that about 150 million children are engaged in child labour including mining, quarrying, domestic service or agriculture.
However, the number of children who work in India has come down over the past few years. In 2011, only 43.53 lakh children aged between five and 14 were working compared to 1.26 crore in 2001, thanks to the work of organisations like International Labour Organization, The Child Labor Coalition and Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA). Apart from them, the list of charities for children also includes UNICEF, United Nations and Save the Children.
There is no doubt that these issues have made children’s lives miserable and hard. But, the situation has definitely improved than earlier, thanks to the thousands of charitable organisations across the world that have engaged in charities for children.
If the good work of charitable organisations continues at this pace, we can soon completely free our children from these issues and return their rights.