Migration And Street Children In Bangladesh Essay Example
Migration And Street Children In Bangladesh Essay Example

Migration And Street Children In Bangladesh Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 16 (4189 words)
  • Published: August 9, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Abstraction: Child labor is common in developing countries as children are compelled to engage in economic activities for their survival. The prevalence and characteristics of child labor differ based on the socioeconomic status of the society they reside in.

The number of street children in the capital of Bangladesh has been rising daily, capturing the focus of development workers and policy makers in various developing nations. Multiple studies have shown that there are thousands of street children in urban areas of Bangladesh who work and reside on the streets. These children not only lack fundamental rights provided by the state but have also lost hope in obtaining them.

The objective of this paper is to investigate the causes and extent of societal problems in certain communities, particularly related to street migration. Despite some progress, these issues persist due to a lack of sufficient information. The stu


dy will examine both the 'push' and 'pull' factors that contribute to street migration, including economic necessities and support systems in street life. Additionally, the paper will address various determining forces such as high population density, poor quality education, complex family relationships like polygamy and remarriage, patriarchal households, natural disasters, lack of economic opportunities, and violation of child rights that push children from rural areas into engaging in street life in Bangladesh. In developing countries, many children face deprivation of basic needs and deteriorating socioeconomic situations that lead them towards dangerous circumstances which hinder their physical and intellectual development. Furthermore, the research explores the distinctions between push and pull factors of migration that pose new challenges for street children.

Street children exist in nearly every country, and are part of the one billio

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

children who lack basic needs (Gordon, Nandy, et al., 2003). These children often face 'absolute poverty' (Bartlett, Hart et al., 1999), which contributes to widespread child labor and social problems in developing nations.

Child labor differs in nature between developed and developing countries, but it is a particularly severe issue in many developing nations like Bangladesh. In fact, child labor is escalating at an alarming rate in Bangladesh. The Technical Committee on National Child Labor Survey reported in 2002-2003 that the following five types of child labor were prevalent: street children, child workers involved in battery re-charging, the car industry, the transportation sector, and the welding sector.

In 2002/03, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics ( BBS ) conducted the 2nd National Child Labor Survey ( NCLS )
[ 1 ]
by the Government of Bangladesh following the confirmation of the International Labor Organization ( ILO ) Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention ( No. 182 ) in the context of the committedness made by 1999. According to the survey, there are 4.9 million working children
[ 2 ]
- 14.2 percent of the total 35.06 million children in the age group of 5-14 years. According to Government/UNDP ( 2001 ) in Bangladesh, the estimated number of street children is 445,226 (of which 75% are in Dhaka city); 53% boys, 47% girls (Sept 2001 report).

Street children in Bangladesh, also known as 'Tokai' or rag choosers, earn an average of USD $0.55[3] per day. A survey conducted by Arise in 2002 revealed that the main city of Bangladesh harbors around 500,000 street children. The survey predicts that this number will continue

to rise due to a yearly increase of 9% in the urban population. However, a report by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies released in December 2004 indicates that there are actually a total of 674,178 street children in Bangladesh.

Street children, who come from poor households and may be orphans or abandoned, constitute a significant proportion of the world's impoverished child population. These vulnerable children are highly susceptible to abuse. In countries like Bangladesh and other developing nations, there is a widespread belief among the public, policymakers, and social workers that economic poverty leads children to "abandon" their families and live on the streets. However, some researchers challenge this idea and argue that purely economic necessity cannot fully account for why children end up in such circumstances. Aptekar (1988) suggests that street children demonstrate cognitive stability and possess strong self-management skills.

According to experts (Veale, 1992), street migration occurs when both 'push' and 'pull' factors interact. The bond between children and their parents or guardians can only be broken if the relationship deteriorates. The push factor compels individuals to leave their current home due to desires like escape, rest, relaxation, good health, fitness, adventure, prestige, and social interaction. On the other hand, the pull factor attracts individuals to a different area. Generally, children maintain adult supervision (usually from parents) unless the push factors weaken or harm the relationship (Masud Ali, Mustaque Ali et al.)

According to Conticini and Hulme (2006), street kids in 1997 increased due to the breakdown of family bonds. These children are attracted to the freedom and empowerment that street life provides, leading them to form a sense of community and urban sub-cultures. This

attachment to the streets makes it challenging for them to reintegrate into their families. The combination of push and pull factors keeps them trapped on the streets. Recently, data released by the government reveals a troubling rise in street kids in major cities in Bangladesh which is linked to the annual nine percent increase in urban population (ARISE: 2001).

Therefore, the issue of street children is a major concern in many countries of Dhaka metropolis.

Methodology: This research was exploratory and utilized primary and secondary information. The survey included male and female street children of various ages. A flexible methodology combining semi-structured interviews and field observations was employed due to the nature and type of the research. The street children were purposefully selected using a typical instance purposive sampling method from different countries within the capital metropolis of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Findings and analysis: The main findings were analyzed using thematic analysis, a qualitative approach. This involved examining key issues like household background, migration practices, and means of earning on the streets for street kids. In Bangladesh, the proportion of children in the population is significant compared to the national population as a whole. According to estimates from 2001, approximately 42 million individuals (32.2% of the total population) are aged between 5-17 years old out of a total population of 130 million.

In 1990-91, a labor force study conducted by BBS found that Bangladesh had a total of 5.8 million children aged 10 to 14 engaged in labor, making up about 11.3% of the overall workforce.

Multiple studies consistently show that these working children are stuck in extreme poverty and their numbers are increasing. According to UNICEF's surveillance data from

1995, one million people worked in the garment industries, with approximately 90% being female workers and only 1% being children below the age of 14.

Research participants have observed that street children face challenges affording suitable accommodation due to economic hardships.

Most respondents in Dhaka metropolis live with their households either in slum areas or workplaces. Those living in slums mentioned that their families have to pay monthly rent ranging from 400 BD TK to 1000 BD TK (5.97US $ to 14.92US $). A female respondent described the difficult living conditions, saying "In the rainy season, we can't sleep at night because our floor is always submerged in water." This demonstrates the poor quality of housing in the slum area, with small and overcrowded rooms.

Most families share kitchens and do not have separate kitchen, gallery, or pace. Cooking arrangements are primarily located outside of the suites where shared kitchens are used. The suites are divided into pukka floors (made of brick and cement) or kutcha floors (made of clay). The walls have a combination of brick and bamboo fencing.

The slum's tin-roof ceilings are shielded from the Sun's heat and winter cold by bamboo sheets. The residents, while sharing a lavatory with others, often resort to using either the road corner or occasionally a public lavatory when they are outside. Unfortunately, living in such an unsanitary and unhygienic environment poses health risks for them. According to a recent official report by ARISE (2001), approximately 500,000 children reside on the streets of the country's main city.

The text discusses poverty by examining its nature and distinguishing between economic poverty and other dimensions. It also explores objective and subjective assessments of

poverty. The main purpose of the survey was to investigate the experiences of street children (both boys and girls) in Bangladesh, specifically their reasons for living on the streets or migrating. The findings revealed that street children were affected by multiple factors, such as family poverty, household conflicts, urban demands, and violations of child rights.

Household poverty is a factor that contributes to homelessness. A respondent shared the story of their father, who suffered a heart attack two years ago and can no longer work due to his health condition. The doctor has advised him to have surgery as part of his treatment.

Following that, my senior sister and I began working while my mother also secured employment as a domestic servant. Presently, our family relies solely on the income we generate to sustain ourselves. This statement distinctly illustrates that familial poverty significantly contributed to pushing children onto the streets, as many of these children hailed from impoverished backgrounds. Moreover, families grappling with poverty placed pressure on their children to aid in providing financial support for the household. By engaging children in contributing to the family's sustenance, it becomes feasible for the household's economic circumstances to ameliorate.

The research revealed another instance of child rights violation, where a young girl living on the streets explained that her family did not rely on her income for survival since her parents and siblings were employed and earning enough money. However, she discovered that her parents were saving money for her future marriage as a form of security when she asked about it. This example demonstrates the parents' ignorance regarding child rights. As a researcher, I found that some families send

their daughters to the streets not because they struggle to meet basic needs but rather to enhance the overall well-being of the family. This pattern highlights a lack of awareness concerning child rights.


One street boy shared his personal experience, stating that his father left his mother and remarried. Subsequently, his mother also remarried a man in their small town. Unfortunately, his stepfather and his family did not accept him and would frequently abuse him for no reason. The boy began to understand that perhaps they saw him as a neglected child from his father's previous relationship. These statements highlight that children are sometimes forced to leave their homes due to strained familial dynamics, ultimately leading them to a life on the streets.

Children in unfortunate circumstances often lose their sense of childhood and feel compelled to become providers. They attribute this decision to negative influences from step-parents, parental separation, and the loss of parents. A street boy provided an example by stating, "When I was 7 years old, I lost my father. My mother couldn't provide for us because we lacked financial and family support after his death. My father's family constantly mistreated and blamed my mother for his passing."

My female parent left my male parent's house with me and came here. We started praying and after one year we saved money and I started selling cigarettes. The above statements indicate that family break-up and struggles influenced children's psychology, leading them to leave their homes. This also violates child rights as legal guardians are responsible for their child's protection and care

[ 5 ]

. This is supported by previous research, which states that

street migration involves both 'push' and 'pull' factors, with emotional bonds between children and their parents or guardians being broken if the adult-child relationship collapses (Veale, 1992).

The text discusses street kids, who come from vulnerable households where they experience emotional, physical, or sexual vulnerability. These children often end up living on the streets and are commonly known as street kids (Zakaria, 2004). Many of these kids come from households where one parent has died, disrupting the family structure and putting them at high risk. Difficulties with step-parents are frequently cited in children's stories as a major reason for leaving home (Pelto, 1997). Moreover, the high unemployment rate in rural areas has compelled families to migrate to urban areas. Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is projected to become the world's sixth-largest mega-city by 2010 and currently has a population of 12.3 million (UNCHS, 2001). Therefore, although their families initiated it, city life has also played a significant role in pushing these children towards street life.

The study found that certain children received assistance from family members, neighbors, and friends during their migration and settlement in the city. This is supported by a previous survey which observed the rise in landless families in rural regions and the socioeconomic changes that have prompted impoverished families to relocate to urban areas for additional support (Pelto, 1997). The research indicates that rural-urban migration played a significant role in causing children to end up living on the streets. Some participants mentioned being compelled to migrate due to factors like floods and other natural disasters. The migration of both adults and children from rural to urban areas has been recognized as the

primary reason for this rapid growth (Deshingkar and Grimm, 2005; Afsar, 2000; Begum, 1999; Ahmed and Jasimuddin, 1996).

According to a previous study, it was discovered that a significant portion of the Bangladeshi workforce consists of 6.3 million children under the age of 14 (Narayan et al., 2002). Many of these children have migrated from rural villages to the capital city in search of better employment opportunities or to escape difficult situations at home. The migration process is viewed as a result of income-driven factors and the perceived advantages between urban and rural areas (Lee, 1966; Lewis, 1982). A study specifically focused on children migrating to Dhaka city explains that this migration is influenced by push factors from rural areas and pull factors from urban areas (Ahmed and Jasimuddin, 1996). In this context, the push-pull theory suggests that factors such as increased job opportunities, available land, and social and cultural freedom in urban areas attract individuals and children to migrate.

On the other hand, factors such as high population density, poor quality of education, family breakdown, natural disasters, lack of economic opportunities, and resulting poverty, serve as determinants that "push" child migrants out of their rural home countries. This approach suggests that individual actors decide to migrate based on a cost-benefit analysis that leads them to anticipate a positive net return (Massey et al., 1993). A common strategy for poor families in rural areas, for example, is to remove children from school during periods of economic strain and send them to the city to work as domestic servants or apprentices (Deshingkar and Grimm, 2005). In some cases, they also "feel proud of the money they earn, which

gives them importance in the family" (Blanchet, 1996: 85).

The process of street migration involves both 'push' and 'pull' factors from society, as evidenced by various findings. Aptekar (1988) discovered that children in street situations were emotionally intact and achieved high levels of self-management. Felsman (1989) found that 97% of Colombian children in street situations actively left their families due to an unfavorable home environment. Additionally, street life contributed to the development of resilience and better mental health among these children compared to their counterparts in households. Veale (1992) compared children in street situations in Sudan and Ireland, highlighting their different backgrounds, social demographics, and engagement in street life.

Both Lugalla and Mbwambo (1999) and Baker (2000) have conducted studies on street life and its effects on children. Lugalla and Mbwambo found that street life kids in Tanzania form organized groups to share resources, strategies, assets, and attention. Baker, on the other hand, suggests that the social network formed in the street reduces vulnerability and social exclusion, enhancing the well-being of these children. Chawla (2002) adds to this by stating that the interaction among street children within their communities plays a crucial role in developing ethical behaviors, and that street life promotes cultural diversity.

This paragraph summarizes empirical studies that show the importance of non-economic factors in children's decisions to migrate and live on the streets. It also highlights that street life involves both exposure processes and processes of empowerment, where children exercise their personal agency and develop coping mechanisms. Some researchers have described these children as being "robbed by humanity," with their lives characterized by a "plundered childhood" and a "lost innocence." In Bangladesh, children

have not received much attention in the migration process, similar to how women were largely overlooked for a long time when it came to migration patterns. This may be due to the prevailing patriarchal, patrilineal, and patrilocal societal system in Bangladesh, where female migrants were considered as passive movers who migrate for marriage or follow the male head of the family. Similarly, children have not been recognized as an independent group who gradually gain autonomy and independence, as parents and guardians have extensive power and authority over them.

The majority of literature on child labor and child migration suggests that children have little or no agency (cited in King, 2002), assuming that they only migrate with their parents or that the parents decide whether to send their children to work in urban areas. Conticini and Hulme (2006) explain that children are attracted to street life because it gives them a sense of empowerment and freedom. The connections they form on the street, the development of urban sub-cultures, and their self-perception are important factors in understanding why children become attached to the street and struggle to reintegrate into their families. These complex interactions between push and pull factors can keep children trapped on the street. However, the most significant factor in why migration occurs is the initial disruption of family ties, making these 'pull' factors of utmost importance. While poverty is a push factor that increases the likelihood of migration in Bangladesh, Conticini and Hulme argue that it plays a secondary role compared to the influence of social relationships within the family and on the street.

The concept of child labor is linked to a serious violation

of children's rights, but considering the histories of children in employment, struggles, wages, and other benefits, it is easy to conclude that children are constantly subjected to a cruel cycle of development. It begins as soon as they are employed on the street and continues for as long as they are involved.

Acceptance of Exploitation as a heading scheme

The aforementioned cruel cycle indicates that when children accept exploitation, it becomes intertwined with their daily life experiences. Street children face different forms of violence regardless of their age, income, gender, and workplace. Humiliation and abuse are everyday occurrences for street children. In this study, all respondents reported experiencing humiliation, abuse, and violent behavior on a daily basis.

The street children reported experiencing various forms of force including menace, bullying, blaming, throwing objects, pushing, grabbing, slapping, kicking, hitting with objects, choking, and hair-pulling. Those who were subjected to such mistreatment endured repeated instances of violence. As a researcher, I discovered that the most prevalent and frequent types of abuse were verbal insults, neglect, and being chased away. The use of derogatory language was particularly widespread.

These words are highly disrespectful and offensive to all individuals. According to street children, violence is not something separate from our lives, but rather an integral part of it. It has been revealed that street children face constant frustration from local residents and are often subjected to humiliation without any valid reasons. In response, one street child mentioned that "many people have mistreated us".

I didn't understand why? I think populating on the street is our only offense ''. That means development is a common happening for every street kid

but the nature varies from street boys to street girls nevertheless the extent and reaction were same. It is rather frequently found that street kids were tempted to engage in arduous work in return of money. At the end of the day, they were refused to be paid off, threatened by their sellers. Then they were bound to settle down with lower pay than promised earlier of the day.

Street children are frequently subjected to verbal and physical abuse by sellers and service providers. They are often slapped, grabbed, or forcibly removed. It is not only their employers who exploit them, but also other individuals such as customers, police officers, security guards, fellow workers, strangers, and even family members. Sales assistants constantly face pressure to avoid making any mistakes, while hotel and restaurant employees must always be attentive in order to serve their customers flawlessly.

However, making mistakes in any profession can result in two types of penalties: one imposed by the customers and the other by the employers. One respondent, who worked as an assistant in a local food store, explained that sometimes clients (particularly local political leaders) would slap him because he was unable to fulfill their orders on time. Another street child (11 years old) stated that some customers would complain that his tea was tasteless and would make excuses not to pay. When he argued with them, they would often torture him. Additionally, he had to pay a bribe of 50 Tk. (0.75 US $) every day in order to be allowed to sell tea on the road.

In this survey, I discovered that the most disturbing thing was the frequent exploitation of children

without any apparent reason. However, all the street children reported experiencing a high degree of force. However, the experiences of street girls were different from those of street boys. The results showed that street girls were constantly subjected to sexual molestation by security guards and local individuals. Street girls were also frequently subjected to verbal exploitation, such as being called offensive names using local slang. Therefore, when a child first enters the street, they engage in begging and then save some money before starting work on the street.

In many cases, children have the ability to assess their situations and make decisions in their own best interests. This includes daily decisions about managing difficult situations and evaluating their own interests. Some children may live in abusive or unsuitable residential homes or shelters but find some aspects beneficial and choose not to go back to the streets. Certain children value their independence and the ability to make their own decisions and control their lives. Others may choose to leave difficult family situations and opt for the conditions of poverty on the streets in order to have more access to food or more freedom to play games or go to the movies when they have earned or begged enough money. Overall, children often turn to the streets worldwide as a way to resolve problems resulting from their social circumstances. However, observers tend to overlook the influence of violence within families and the strong social bonds formed by children on the streets when discussing this "problem" in Bangladesh.

The analysis indicates that efforts to reduce child street migration in the state will require addressing the issues of emotional, physical, and

sexual violence, rather than solely focusing on poverty as the main cause. The perception of street children in Bangladesh is shaped by a dominant narrative that suggests they are on the streets because their parents or guardians cannot meet their basic material needs. These children have been deprived of their fundamental rights and have stopped expecting support from the state, even though they are in the capital city. The number of children on Dhaka's streets who lack sufficient funds for a proper meal was at least 200,000 in 2005 and continues to rise, according to a report by Plan Bangladesh, an international NGO.

Through examining the real-life experiences of street children in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, it becomes evident that poverty is the main reason for these children being forced into street life. This poverty is influenced by various push and pull factors, as mentioned by the respondents, which are loosely connected to the overall poverty in Bangladesh. Additionally, it was discovered that factors such as high population density, inadequate education, family conflicts including polygamy and remarriage, patriarchy, natural disasters, lack of economic opportunities, child rights violations, and subsequently poverty all contribute to "pushing" children from their rural hometowns in Bangladesh towards street life. This approach suggests that individual rational actors choose to migrate based on a cost-benefit analysis that leads them to anticipate a positive net gain (Massey et al., 1993).

According to Cain (1977), in Bangladesh, children have an economic value to their families as they contribute to family welfare from a young age, which pushes them towards street life. Factors such as greater job opportunities and the demands of city life attract

individuals and children to urban areas in hopes of a better life. A study showed that most children, especially street girls, depend on their parents when transitioning to street life and are therefore influenced by street-based activities in Dhaka. Conticini and Hulme (2006) mentioned that the main reason children leave their families to live on the streets in Bangladesh is not solely economic poverty, but also domestic violence and a breakdown of trust in adult family members and the community. The implications of this finding are significant.

Instead of trying to help children who are living on the streets and assuming that economic growth and reducing poverty will prevent more children from ending up on the streets, the text proposes that

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds