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ISSN: 1998-2003, Volume: 11, Issue: 1, Page: 40-48, March - April, 2015
Review Paper

Shekh Farid*1and Mamata Mostari2

Shekh Farid and Mamata Mostari (2015). Lives and Livelihoods of Children Living In Street Situation in
Dhaka City of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Res. Pub. J. 11(1): 40-48. Retrieve from
Recently, the issue of child rights has globally gained an awful lot of attention that
came in the form of international convention, summit, and global action for
children. Unfortunately, in the present civilized world, a huge number of children are
still living on streets, and notably on the streets of Bangladesh. Most infuriatingly,
there are rising number of children living in street situation in the urban areas of the
country, particularly in Dhaka city and they appear mere figure that doesn’t seem
to make any impact on our mind. Tragically, in our country, street children lead so
miserable and tormented lives plagued by serious physical and psycho-social
problems. This paper, however, attempts to explore the lives and livelihoods of the
children living in street situation in Dhaka city highlighting their lifestyle, housing
pattern, works and income, health status, food habit along with the recreational
facilities they have. Moreover, it also discloses the problems they regularly face, the
social support they get together with their future orientation. Data have been
collected from sixty three purposively selected street children found in the study
area. It shows that the overwhelming number of the children work as Tokai, Cooli,
van/rickshaw puller, hawker, beggar and flower seller with an average income of
68.23 taka per day. In addition, being fully deprived of their basic human rights,
street children suffer from and prone to various diseases like as HIV/AIDS, cold fever,
stomach upset, skin diseases, water- borne diseases, headache, etc.

Key words: Children, Street children, Street situation, Problems, Diseases, Child rights.
Children are the most precious human capital of any country (Nabi, 1973). The future
leaders, undoubtedly, come from these children who are now under eighteen. It is almost
an article of faith with the civilized countries that children should have opportunities for
the fullest development and growth towards maturity through physical, emotional, mental
and spiritual wellbeing (Chowdhury, 1980). Tragically, a large proportion of world’s
children still live in street situation being deprived of their basic rights. Internationally, an
estimated 1.2 million children are on the streets of major cities and urban centers; these
include “runaway” children who live or work on the street plus those who return to the
family (Pagare et al, 2004). UNICEF itself now puts the figure at tens of millions of children
worldwide (UNICEF, 2006). Street children’s experiences in countries across the world are
strikingly similar, including those in rich countries with child protection systems alongside
children in poorer countries which have weaker support structures (Benitez, 2007).
Bangladesh, being a densely populated country with over 150 million people, experiences
an awful lot of street children who live in street situation in the major cities and urban
areas. They lead an inhuman life and a significant portion of them are involved in begging
(UNICEF, 2012). The number of street children has been rising day by day in the capital of
Bangladesh (Wazed, 2010). Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) in 2005
estimated 679,728 street children were across Bangladesh while 249,200 of them were in
Dhaka city with a projection of 1,144,754 and 1,615,330 street children for the year 2010
and 2024 respectively throughout the country. According to another government
estimate of 2004, there were 250,000 street children in Dhaka city (The Daily Star, 12
December, 2007). Children of the underprivileged group in the city can hardly have a

*Corresponding Author Email: E-mail:,
1&2 Institute of Social Welfare and Research (ISWR), University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh

2014). there are many conspicuous causes behind the harsh curtain of their street life. UNICEF defined street children as “any girl or boy who has not reached adulthood. Whether there are economic or social factors. They are extremely vulnerable to HIV/AIDS because of their living and working status (ICDDRB. It’s worth mentioning that ‘‘the number of girls in street situation was estimated to be about one quarter that for boys” (Mozdalifa. waterborne diseases and headache (BBS. http://www. some of them are also involved in pick pocketing.Lives and Livelihoods of Children 41 chance to get equipped for their adult roles by taking the advantages of education meant for children like them (Taher. sleep deprivation. 2006). 1999 (Ahsan. 2011 of Bangladesh specified children’s age as “all individuals under 18”. snatching. hawker. police or even by the adult members of their families (Ahmed et al. street children leave their homes for an uncertain future (Khatun and Jamil. the children under eighteen. In the meantime. theft while they sleep. 2012). are not protected with proper initiatives. landlessness. informing and drug business. such as. and who is inadequately protected. they have to starve or remain satisfied with what they find around them through begging or any such mean. and sexual abuse (Mohajan. undoubtedly. 2014). 2014). They face physical assaults by local mastans. Most of the street children take rice once or twice a day if they have money (Hai. Besides. beggar. sleeping. thief. such as overpopulation. The term “Child” relates to individual’s age limit that is defined and specified by the law and policy of a particular country. inconveniently. The National Children Policy. More specifically. Bangladesh has already ratified international convention and measures for child rights and made constitutional and legal provision so as to protect them. scrap scavenger. tokai (street- children). family disintegration. oppression of step father/mother (Islam et al. The lives of street children in Bangladesh are so miserable and hazardous that they are. Otherwise. The most common sickness is fever. sexual abuse. Benitez (2007) broadly defined street children as “Children for whom the street is a reference point and has a central role in their lives” (Benitez. hazardous work. Street Children A child is an individual who is under the age of 18 years based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. wetness during the rains. The surrounding environment of them is brutal and risky (Subarna et al. and trafficking (Mohajan. and daily laborers (ICDDRB. Their lives are more vulnerable than that of their fellow male counterparts. 2013). 1989 and the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. illiteracy. It’s worth mentioning that those children are vagrant in nature and. Mere institutional measures without real practice and lack of proper initiatives prompted their situations to be deteriorated. unplanned urbanization. Economic poverty has been presented both as a direct and indirect factor that ‘pushes’ children onto the street (Conticini & Hulme. cold weather in the winter. 2014). and supervised by responsible adults (UNICEF. 2003). directed. including unoccupied dwellings. The street-children are involved in multiple occupations. most underprivileged section of our society. Street Children refers to those children aged 5-17 years who are living (i. Street children are especially vulnerable to violence. 2011). unemployment. 2001). physical and mental illness because of the surrounding they are in and the life style they are accustomed to. town or Thana head quarters (BBS. eating and working) on the street of a particular city. natural disasters. exposure to mosquitoes. Furthermore. Bangladesh government along with some national and international NGOs are working to protect and assist children living on the streets. the future appears bleak for Bangladesh. Adequate provisions have been made to safeguard child rights and restrict the child laborers from work from the constitution of Bangladesh to various laws (Khan. and so on.e. 2011). seemingly detached from their families. 2003). 2007). 2012). sex worker. 2011). if the most precious human capitals. 2006). wasteland. In response to the miserable and inhuman lives and livelihood of the street .bdresearchpublications. But still. They face various problems such as. 2011). has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood. street children are prone to various diseases. In addition. the number of children living in street situations is on the rise and their lives and livelihoods are so contemptible without having their basic rights. conflict with the law. 2011). for whom the street in the widest sense of the word.

97% of the total respondents. Data have been presented by using statistical table.bdresearchpublications. Table-01 represents demographic information about the respondents of the study.46 Education of the Respondents Illiterate 12 19. chart.57 05-06 34 53. Before launching the main study.46 Khulna 04 06.35 Rangpur 02 03. Chondrima Uddan. Results and Discussion Profile of the Street Children The study reveals information about the lives and livelihoods of children living in street situation in Dhaka city. Regarding family size. however. Ramna Park. whereas 19.35% respondents. As a data collection tool. Then descriptive analysis was made with a view to highlighting the situations of street children living under the area of the study. The area of Dhaka South City Corporation and Dhaka North City Corporation was the study area of the study where. The table also shows that more the half of the total respondents were from two divisions namely Chittagong (26.70 08-12 34 53. Table1: Demographic Profile of the Respondents Variable Categories N=63 Frequency Percentage (%) Age of the Respondents 03-07 08 14. 6. Farmgate Park and Banani.46%.40%).46 Division Based Permanent Dhaka 16 25. 38. Through using purposive sampling technique. The percentage of children coming from Barisal division remarkably amounts 17.35 Family Size of the Respondents 02-04 18 28. Maximum respondents amounting 42.05 Able to read and write 24 38. a field visit was done so as to find out the area of concentration of the street children. Regarding the age.97 13-17 21 33. all street children under 18 years were the target group. the table shows that most of the respondents were from the age group of 8 to 12 years.94 Not known 04 06. In terms of sex. Respondents aged between 3 and 7 held less significant portion of the sample.35 Chittagong 17 26.Farid and Mostari 42 Methodology The study was about to know the lives and livelihoods of street children in Dhaka city.17 Sylhet 05 07. which constitute 53. Sample survey was used as the primary method of the study to get firsthand knowledge. 63 street children were drawn from some purposively selected areas namely- Dhaka University Campus.05% were reportedly illiterate. diagram and measures. it shows that maximum respondents belonged to a family of 5 to 6 members. as per definition of street . Khulna.86% took primary education ranging from class I to V.98%) and Dhaka (25. A slightly lower number of respondents amounting 33. could not mention the division they came from. an interview schedule was developed and pretested with due process where both open-ended and close-ended questions were set.40 Address of the Respondents Rajshahi 04 06.84 Female 11 17. it shows that the percentage of male children was about four times that of female children.98 Barisal 11 17.09% mentioned that they could read and write. and Sylhet division with considerably lower percentage.09 Primary education 27 42.33% were from the age group of 13 to 17. Moreover. The study was designed as an explorative social study where both qualitative and quantitative data have been collected through face to face interview with the respondents.33 Sex of the Respondents Male 52 82. Rangpur. the table also shows the educational status of the respondents.97 06-above 11 17.86 Source: Field Survey. others were from Rajshahi. 2014 http://www. Meanwhile.

70 Respondents 40-59 14 22. 2014 http://www. were accustomed to sleep here and there.29%.46 Saving 07 11. In addition. cooli. beggary.16 and 17.22 60-79 22 .70 Van/ rickshaw puller 11 17.05 100-above 07 11.46 respectively.62 10-12 14 22.33% of them in shanty house. Table 2: Housing and Sleeping Place of the Respondents Variable Categories N=63 Frequency Percentage (%) Sleeping Place of the Footpath 33 52. used to stay alone at night. the percentage of children staying with friends and co-workers were 30. Table-03 demonstrates information about work and income of the respondents. 14.bdresearchpublications.92 80-99 12 19. But shockingly. street children are to live and stay on the street and open air being detached from their families.29 Source: Field Survey.38 Respondents Shanty house 21 33. they were involved in various works like as tokai.57 07-09 30 47. 2014 Work and Income of the Street Children The study also unveils information about the works street children are involved in and the nature of their income and expenditure. The table also presents that at night.11 Working Hours of the Respondents 01-03 01 01.46 Alone 09 14.81%) received the highest blow and hawker (7.11 Unnecessary expense 17 26. Regarding the works.45 Respondents Family expense 11 17.33 Anywhere 09 14.29% children. more specifically.94%) received the lower portion.46 Hawker 05 07. Table-03: Information about Work and Income of the Respondents Variable Categories N=63 Frequency Percentage (%) Types of Works Tokai 15 23.11 Nature of Expenditure of the Personal expense 28 44.16 Co-workers 11 17.98 The average daily income is 68. Although the percentage of respondents working as tokai (23.09% respondents habituated to stay with their families.29 Persons Respondents Stay Family 24 38. It shows that more than half of the children amounting 52.81 Respondents are Involved in Beggar 09 14.59 04-06 18 28.70 Cooli 08 12. and flower selling.Lives and Livelihoods of Children 43 Housing Pattern of the Street Children Housing is a basic human right for every human being and a fundamental right assured by our constitution. which stand at 14. Table-02 furnishes information about the sleeping places and housing pattern of the respondents at night. the percentage of respondents involved in other works were near about same. as reported.22 Daily Income (Taka) of the 20-39 08 12. the remaining portions of children. Meanwhile. 38.28 Working in small shop 08 12. it shows that instead of concentrating on any particular work.94 Flower seller 07 11. hawker.09 with Friends 19 30.23 taka Source: Field Survey. van/rickshaw puller. Furthermore.38% used to sleep in footpath whereas 33. anywhere they found. working in small shop.

which constitute 34. it shows that all the respondents reported that they suffered from cold fever and influenza. while 19. Furthermore. Furthermore. the table also represents that 73. owners and their families though very small in numbers.89% respondents suffered from other types of diseases. A slightly lower number of them amounting 23.00 Respondents Suffer from* Stomach upset (Diarrhoea and dysentery) 52 82.45%. Besides. The average income of the respondents was. gambling etc. volunteers. It shows the maximum proportion. Besides.35 Volunteer 11 17.11%) saved their earning. 68.35%.21 Services from* Co-workers 09 .98 N=46 Persons Respondents Get Friends 31 49.02% respondents reportedly got services from others during their illness while the remaining portion amounting 26. due to the habitual drug addiction.89 Nature of Treatment Government hospital 15 23. the table shows that the largest number of the respondents. Moreover 82. the table shows that they mostly used to spend this money for their personal expenses and their number amounts 44.05 Pharmacy 20 31. The rest usually got services from their coworkers. As per treatment is concerned. Regarding the nature of expenditure of this income. sexually transmitted infection (STI) and other reproductive diseases.62% used to work 7 to 9 hours ling per day. Table-04: Information about Health Status of the Respondents Variable Categories N=63 Frequency Percentage (%) Nature of Diseases Cold fever/ Influenza 63 100.54 Skin disease 39 61. which stand at 31. took treatment from pharmacy.70% of them earned only 20 to 39 taka per day. they were also prone to HIV/AIDS.57% and 22. the table shows that the highest portion of respondents. had their foods from http://www.bdresearchpublications. 2014 In addition. which stands at 38.11 Kabiraji 12 19. The percentage of respondents earning 100 more taka was only 11.29 Owner 08 12. Concerning the daily income. 28. 49.92%.90% suffered from skin diseases. A slightly lower number of respondents habituated to use this money unnecessarily like as taking drug.81 Private doctors 00 00 Homeopathy 07 11. Figure-01 illustrates the information about the ways of taking food by the street children. back pain. some respondents also used to spend their money in family expenses while others (11. Food Habit and Health Status of the Street Children Table-04 provides information about the health status of the respondents. usually earned 60 to 79 taka per day.Farid and Mostari 44 Moreover the table also shows that maximum respondents amounting 47.54% usually suffered from stomach upset while 61.46 *More than one response was possible Source: Field Survey. 88.28 Getting services from Yes 46 73.22% respondents used to work 4 to 6 hours and 10-12 hours respectively.23 taka.02 others during illness No 17 26. respiratory problem.1%. accident) 56 88.90 Others (water borne diseases and headache.11% took kabiraji and homeopathy treatment during their illness.21% of the children getting services from others stated that their friends helped them during their illness.11 whereas 12.05% and 11.70 Family 04 06. therefore. Regarding the diseases respondents usually suffer from. In addition.35 Own way 09 14.98% accused that they did not get any services during their illness.81% went to the government hospitals for treatment.

bdresearchpublications. Figure-03 depicts that 63. gossiping with friends was only way of recreation. Sadly. sometimes. Street children don’t have proper recreational facilities that lead them to manifest unexpected social behavior and which are. Moreover. many of them remained un- served and the services provided to others seem to be inadequate and.67% of them. 17.46% of them accused that they didn’t have any recreational facilities at all. inappropriate. Furthermore. which constitute 28.54% pursued their recreation from playing with other fellow friends.49% respondents somehow got services from any http://www. It shows that most of them amounting 82. But still.Lives and Livelihoods of Children 45 hotel while a bit lower percentage of them. In addition. 2014 Figure 2: Information about the Recreational Facilities Available to the Respondents Social Support for the Street Children It goes without saying that a number of national and international NGOs are working to assist and protect street children in Bangladesh. Lack of proper and adequate recreational facilities hampers proper development of children.92% of them usually watched TV and went for enjoying cinema in Cinema Hall respectively to have them entertained. *More than one response was possible Source: Field Survey. to some . had their foods through begging from others.52% respectively. destructive in nature. Figure-02 demonstrates the information about the available recreational facilities for the street children.57%.44% and 34. the percentage of taking foods from their families and owners were 23. for 66. 44. Figure 1: Ways of Food Intake of the Respondents Recreational Facilities of the Street Children Proper recreation is the basic to the proper child development.81% and 9.

29% stated that they had a desire to start business if capital could be managed. 23.38% and 66. most of them remain unreported.bdresearchpublications. Figure-04 illustrates that the highest proportion of the street children amounting 34. desired to work in workshop as a mechanic. In contrast. 14.81% reported that they had other problems like food and clothing problems and being forced to sex and labor.67 Insecurity 38 60. Moreover 52. Meanwhile. while 31. 23.38 Problems No 30 47.32 Torture 20 31. clothing. Moreover.22% wanted to study and be driver respectively. which make up 47.32% of them stated that they felt insecurity.76%. 2014 Future Orientation of the Street Children In addition.75% accused to be victim of torture. Table 5: Information about Problems of the Respondents Variable Categories N=63 Frequency Percentage (%) Problems Faced by Housing problem 63 100.92% wanted to do job in future. http://www. Furthermore.81% and 22. which constitute 4.51% accused that they had not gotten any services from any organizations.Farid and Mostari 46 organizations while the remaining portion amounting 36. 52. forced labor) 15 23.75 Others (food. 60. Table-05 represents information relating to the problems respondents usually face and the help they get in solving these problems.38 Psychological problem 42 66.62 *More than one response was possible Source: Field Survey. It shows that all of them have housing problems.38% stated that they got help from others in solving their problems whereas the rest.62%. Source: Field Survey. reported that they didn’t get any help in this regard.67% reported to be incurred with physical illness and psychological problems respectively.00 the Respondents* Physical illness 33 52.81 Getting Help in Solving Yes 33 52. 2014 Figure-03: Information about whether Respondents Get any Social Support Problems of the Street Children Street children in Bangladesh face various physical and psycho-social problems. whereas the . respondents were asked to mention what they want to be in future.

Lives and Livelihoods of Children 47 Source: Field Survey.. More preciously. S.bdresearchpublications. Benitez.. Hossain. Mohakhali. Islam.. Hai.P. In the mean time. Vulnerability of Bangladeshi Street Children to HIV/AIDS: A Situation Analysis. street children are fully deprived of their basic necessities leading so inhuman lives inflicted by serious physical and psycho-social problems. M.A. Ahsan. M. Mohammadpur. (1980). As per analysis goes. Bangladesh: Research and Evaluation Division. & Hulme. D.W. .. beggary. London. 2014 Figure 4: Information about Future Orientation of the Respondents Conclusion The study depicts the horrible picture of miseries and distresses of children living in street situation in Dhaka city. Dhaka and Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC). working in small shop. M. skin disease and others water borne diseases etc. Likewise. UK: Consortium for Street Children.S. http://www. The Status of Un-served Children in Education: Working Children in Bangladesh. Khan. A Baseline Survey of Street Children in Bangladesh. S... (2011).M.. (2011). Escaping Violence. they are most likely to suffer from various diseases such as. University of Manchester.M. M. D. stomach upset. Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS). T. Q. rather than pursuing education. Sharma. (2007).J. the street children are involved in various works such as. S. T...23 taka per day. Conticini. seeking freedom: Why Children in Bangladesh Migrate to the Street. tokai.A. & Kamruzzaman.. (2014).P.T. As is revealed. 45-56. Delhi: Atma Ram & Sons. State of the World’s Street Children: Violence. Imam. 3(10). Koehlmoos. & Azim. Dhaka: Foundation for Research on Educational Planning and Development (FREPD). Dhaka: Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE). A. hawker. Dhaka. Dhaka: Uddin. B (2011). References Ahmed. BBS (2003). BRAC. International Journal of Scientific & Technological Research. cooli and flower selling with an average income of 68. Chowdhury. Agargaon. Child Welfare and Development. H. Lives and Livelihoods on the streets of Dhaka City: Finding from a population based exploratory survey. M. van/ rickshaw puller. Nahar. cold fever. Bangladesh. Kashmere Gate. (2006). the concerned authorities and others willing to work for them should take effective measures to assist and rehabilitate them in the society so as to protect the most valuable capitals of the county. Q. they are prone to HIV/AIDS due to the habitual drug intake and inadequate educational and recreational facilities. Problems Faced by the Street Children: A Study on Some Selected Places in Dhaka City. T.

M. (2010). A. Migration and street children in Bangladesh. A. http://www. Developing Skill and Improving Environment of the Street Children at Aricha and Daulatdia Ferry Ghats.H.M. 207-238. (1973).. Situational Analysis of the Street Children Involved in Begging in Dhaka City. (2014). Dhaka: Alliance for Cooperation & Legal Aid Bangladesh (ACLAB). H.. Haque.A. Child Labour in Dhaka City: Dimension and Implications. A. Journal of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics. Taher. & Jamil.K. H. Negligence to the Children. S. 3(1). M. 50-56 Mohajan. 63-73. H. Khatun. Dhaka: Unnayan Onneshan -The Innovators. Journal of Social Welfare and Human Rights. Singh M.. & Shawaly. Bangladesh. (2004). In Mia. Wazed S. Mozdalifa.. Dacca: Institute of Social Welfare and Research. Social Connection of Street Girls in the Context of Dhaka City. M. (2001). 35-42. Biswas. M. Ahsan. Problems of Children and Adolescents in Bangladesh.M.. State of the World’s Children: Excluded and Invisible. 2(1). Khan.R. Nabi. M.. The Social Life of Street Children in Khulna City of Bangladesh: A Socio-Psychological analysis. Shikdar. Meena G. (2001). Dhanmondi. Dhaka: Akter. Life Style of the Street Children in Khulna City. UNICEF (2006). M.. Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities. 221-225. Dhaka: Barkat. T. A. A.bdresearchpublications.. M. . A. (2006). 9(1).F.. N. Risk factors of substance use amongst street children from Dehli. S. 41(3).. Pagare D. New York: UNICEF UNICEF (2012). & Hassan. Osman. OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development 2(1). Dhaka: Hakkani Publishers. Subarna.A.T. (2014)..Farid and Mostari 48 Islam. Mohammadpur. (2012). M. (2013).R. & Alauddin. & Tarik. Bangladesh Research Publication Journal.K. Child Labor in Dhaka City. University of Dacca. & Saba R. Child Rights in Bangladesh.K.

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