Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
India with 1.21 billion people constitutes as the second most populous country in the world, while children represent 40% of the total population of the country. Over 73% children living in the rural and 23% in the urban areas. UNICEF estimates that there are about 31 million children that can be labeled orphans.
Some think that the number could be even higher, given the children that live on the streets or the slums. Orphans in India typically reside either on the streets, with relatives, or in institutions. According to the government Investigation estimated that 1.2 million children were involved in prostitution. Children from the poorest areas of India target for the sex trade and forced child labor.
Child labour and exploitation:
There are 10.13 million child laborers between 5-14 years in India (Census 2011)
India has 33 million working children between the ages of 5-18 years. In parts of the country, more than half the child population is engaged in labour (Census 2011)
Every 8 minutes, a child goes missing in India – kidnapping and abduction is the largest crime against children in our country (District Crime Record Bureau (DCRB) 2014)
Over the last 10 years, crimes against children has increased 5 times over (District Crime Record Bureau (DCRB) Data Series)
Fear of failure in examinations in the second highest cause of suicides in children (Accidents and Suicide Deaths in India (ASDI) 2014)
1 in 4 children of school-going age is out of school in our country - 99 million children in total have dropped out of school (Census 2011)
Out of every 100 children, only 32 children finish their school education, age-appropriately (District Information System for Education (DISE) 2014-15)
Only 2% of the schools offer complete school education from Class 1 to Class 12 (District Information System for Education (DISE) 2014-15)
The health indicators of children in India are among the worst in the world - only around half (54%) of the infants in India are fully immunized. More than half the births in the country continue to remain home-births (National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 3)
4 out of 5 children under 3 years of age in the country are anemic (National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 3)
3 out of 5 children are malnourished (National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 3)
Around 8.5 lakh children are estimated to die before their first birthday each year (Census 2011 and Sample Registration System (SRS) 2013).
More than 10 lakh children are AIDS patients. 53,000 children are dying every day. Every 3rd girl child born is killed. Over 50% of the rural children of school-going age are never admitted to school and of those admitted to school, 50%become dropouts within the first 12 months. Out of the world’s 10 crore street children, India has the largest number, 1.8 crores or 18 million.
The population of Andhra Pradesh is 7.6 crores. 1/3rd of this population are children between 6-14 years. These children are exploited. Many are malnourished and die early. Poor parents cannot send them to schools. Parents of these children pledge their child labour to pay of their debts. In the villages children take the buffaloes for grazing. In towns they are sent to rich homes and hotels for work. Sexual and other forms of physical abuse by employers are common, and verbal abuse is routine. Gender discrimination in prevalent in Andhra Pradesh and other states in India. It is estimated that 44 female foeticides per hour (42,000 per month are taking place).
We should recognize that children born and unborn, along with the rest of humanity, are created in the image of God and therefore have intrinsic worth. Any actions that demean, devalue or otherwise diminish children are sinful. God is not willing any of these little ones should be lost.
Let us give value and dignity for children, as we too deserved it.
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God”-William Carry