This Indian girl was begging with her younger siblings in the street of Hazarimal Somani Road, which is situated near the Victoria Station in Mumbai, India. Street begging is one of the major issues of Indian society and many efforts are made to keep children away from street for instance with education and as we know lack of education can cause many issues such as poor health or nutrition deficiency, which is seen among people due to illiteracy. Lack of education causes gender inequality and lack of skilled labor and less productivity is seen well.
It is estimated that there are over 300,000 street children in Mumbai, Calcutta, Madras, Kanpur, Bangalore and Hyderabad combined and about 100,000 in Delhi alone. In this spotlight the photographer Kristian Bertel reflects on the topic. These children of the street are homeless children who live and sleep on the streets in urban areas, where they are totally on their own, living with other street children or homeless adult other people. On the other hand there can also be street children on the street who earn their living or beg for money and return home at night.
Life conditions of street children in India
A street child in India is someone for whom the street and as you can say in the widest sense of the word, including places like unoccupied dwellings, wasteland and so on and that place has become his or her habitual abode and or the source of livelihood of the child and who is inadequately protected, supervised or directed by responsible adults. As written in the beginning of this blog post, it is estimated that there are more than 400,000 street children in India exist. Mainly because of family conflict, they come to live on the streets and take on the full responsibilities of caring for themselves, including working to provide for and protecting themselves. As a photographer he portrayed some of these children in the streets of India. Though the street children do sometimes band together for greater security, they are often exploited by employers and the police. As a wandering traveler and a documenting photographer it is obvious to see that these children and their many vulnerabilities require specific legislation and attention from the government and other organisations to improve their condition of their life in India. In the early years of research on street children, the term 'Street child' included any child that worked on the street. From research, however, different categories of children on the streets have been distinguished, while still recognizing that children's complex experiences are difficult to define.
Photo of street children begging in Mumbai in India. As street children must provide for themselves, work is a very important aspect of their lives. In many of the photographer's photos this can be seen and he is interested in a child's rights and children's rights.These rights include the right to family care, love and protection and the responsibility to show love, respect and caring to others especially the elderly. It is also the right to a clean environment and the responsibility to take care of their environment by cleaning the space they live in.
Categories of children on the street
From research there has been developed four categories of children on the street: Children who work on the street but return to their families at night, children who work on the street but whose family ties are dwindling, children who live and work with their families on the street, and children who work and live on their own on the street. The term 'street child' has come to refer only to the last group and as a traveling photographer it is gripping to see how these young children are running barefeet between cars begging.
Photo of a street child in India. Factors which have given rise to the increase in number of street children in India include poverty, family break-ups, armed conflicts, natural and man-made disasters, lack of employment opportunities and the attraction of cities. Such as the city of Mumbai with a population of about 18.4 million inhabitants and is the most populated city in India. With a wealth that surpasses any other Indian city as it is home to the hight number of Indian millionaires and billionaires but also poverty.
Vulnerable group of children in India
While 18 million children work on the streets of India and some of them are portrayed in this blog post, it is estimated that only five to twenty percent of them are truly homeless and disconnected from their families. Because the street children in India have unique vulnerabilities, the amount of time they spend on the street, their livelihood depending on the street and their lack of protection and care from adults, they are a subgroup of the Indian population that deserve specific attention in order to ensure that their needs are known. As the most vulnerable group of children in India, they need to be understood as much as possible. There is currently no official statistic of the number of street children in India and the primary reason for this is that it is difficult to obtain accurate data about them because of their floating character. Street children usually have no proof of identification and move often. Of the 50,000 people in India that are officially reported as leaving home annually, fourtyfive percent are under sixteen years old, this number, though, is likely very low. Various studies have formulated estimates of certain cities. Thirty years ago, for instance, it was estimated that there were at least 100,000 street children in both Calcutta and Mumbai. Overall, estimates for the total number of street children in India range from 400,000 to 800,000. The street children in India choose to leave their families and homes for strategic reasons. Three hypotheses have been put forth in an attempt to explain their choices like urban Poverty, aberrant families and urbanization. Evidence can to some degree support all three of these hypotheses.
In one study of 1,000 street children living in Mumbai conducted twentyfive years ago almost forty percent of street children said they left home because of problems and fights with family, and a little over twenty percent said they left because of family poverty, and as little as almost four percent said that they wanted to see the city. This study illustrates the trend found by most researchers, that the most children leave their families to live on the street because of family problems. Family problems include such things as death of a parent, alcoholism of father, strained relationships with stepparents, parent separation, abuse and family violence. Additionally, street children usually come from female-headed households.
The Republic of India is the seventh largest and second-most populated country in the world. Due to the acceleration in economic growth, an economic rift has appeared, with just over thirtytwo percent of the population living below the poverty line. Owing to unemployment, increasing rural-urban migration, the attraction of city life, and a lack of political will, India has developed one of the largest child labor forces in the world. In this picture a street girl in India is looking for money.
Reasons for leaving their home
Most children who leave home to live on the streets come from slums or low cost housing, both which are areas of high illiteracy, drug use, and unemployment. Children usually transfer their lives to the streets through a gradual process, they may at first only stay on the street a night or two. Gradually they will spend more time away from home until they do not return. Once on the streets, children sometimes find that their living conditions and physical and mental health is better than at home. However, this fact speaks to the poor conditions of their homes rather than good conditions in the street. Street conditions are far from child-friendly. Once they leave home, many street children move around often because of the fear that their relatives will find them and force them to return home. As street children must provide for themselves, work is a very important aspect of their lives. In many of the photographer's photos this can be seen also with the Indian street youth. Unfortunately, working conditions for street children are often very poor because they are confined to working in the informal sector, which is unregulated by the government. In Mumbai, 50,000 children are illegally employed by 11,750 hotels, restaurants, canteens, tea shops and eating places. Because of street children's lack of protection from a family and the law, employers often exploit them, making them virtual prisoners, sometimes withholding pay and abusing them. Employers that would not mistreat the children often will not hire them because they are seen as too great of a risk.
Street children girl walk from car to car in downtown Mumbai in her effort to get a couple of rupees. It is more common for street children to be male and the average age is fourteen. Although adolescent girls are more protected by families than boys are, when girls do break the bonds they are often worse off than boys are, as they are lured into prostitution.
Street children are working
Because of the low pay from employers, street children in India often choose to be self-employed or work multiple jobs. In fact, the majority of them are self-employed. One of the most common economic activities done by the children is scavenging for recyclable materials, such as plastic, paper and metal. Other jobs include cleaning cars, petty vending, selling small items such as balloons or sweets, selling newspapers or flowers, begging, shining shoes, working in small hotels, working on construction sites and working in roadside stalls or repair shops. Street children, especially the older children, are also sometimes engaged in activities such as stealing, pick-pocketing, drug-peddling, and prostitution, though this is a small proportion. Most of the street children work 8 to 10 hours total each day in their various economic activities. Street children in India are a manifestation of societal malfunctioning and an economic and social order that does not take timely preventative action. Thus, many scholars believe that fixing the problems of street children depend on addressing the causal factors of their situations. Additionally, as these causal factors are addressed, help for the immediate situation of street children must also be given.
When the photographer is photographing in India he is always trying to take a portrait that is showing the inner feelings of his photographic subjects. Image of young girl in India near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, India. She is one the many street children in India that spends her time walking around from car window to car window in the inner traffic among cars, knocking on them in order to change her own life situation.
Three stages in the childhood of street children
Early childhood follows the infancy stage and begins with toddlerhood when the child begins speaking or taking steps independently. While toddlerhood ends around age 3 when the child becomes less dependent on parental assistance for basic needs, early childhood continues approximately until the age of 7. However, early childhood also includes infancy and at this stage children are learning through observing, experimenting and communicating with others. Adults supervise and support the development process of the child, which then will lead to the child's autonomy. Also during this stage, a strong emotional bond is created between the child and the care providers. The children also start preschool and kindergarten at this age and hence their social lives.
Middle childhood begins at around age 7, approximating primary school age. It ends with puberty around age 12 or 13, which typically marks the beginning of adolescence. In this period, children develop socially and mentally and they are at a stage where they make new friends and gain new skills, which will enable them to become more independent and enhance their individuality. During middle childhood, children enter the school years, where they are presented with a different setting than they are used to and this new setting creates new challenges and faces for children. Upon the entrance of school, mental disorders that would normally not be noticed come to light and can also be the reason why being on the street.
Adolescence is usually determined to be between the onset of puberty and legal adulthood, where mostly corresponding to the teenage years 13 to 19. However, puberty may also begin in preadolescence and middle childhood. Adolescence is biologically distinct from childhood, but it is accepted by some cultures as a part of social childhood, because most adolescents are considered minors under the law. The onset of adolescence brings about various physical, psychological and behavioral changes and the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood varies by country and by function and even within a single nation-state or culture there may be different ages at which an individual is considered to be mature enough to be entrusted by society with certain tasks.
An Indian street boy photographed in downtown Mumbai, India. Street children is used as a catch-all term, but covers children in a wide variety of circumstances and with a wide variety of characteristics. Policymakers and service providers struggle to describe and assist such a sub-population. Individual girls and boys of all ages are found living and working in public spaces and are visible in the great majority of the world's urban centers.
Something can be done to help street children
India has set in place various forms of public policy concerning street children over the past two decades, but they have largely been ineffective because they are uniformed by sociological, anthropological and geographical research on street children, meaning they do not always correctly assess and address needs. However, the Consortium for Street Children has started The International Day for Street Children: Louder Together on the 12th April every year, a campaign to give a louder voice to the millions of street children all around the world so their rights cannot be ignored.
More about organizations in India
A nonprofit organization is an organization dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. In economic terms, it is an organization using its surplus of the revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization's shareholders, leaders or members. Nonprofits are tax-exempt or charitable, meaning they do not pay income tax on the money that they receive for their organization. They can operate in religious, scientific, research or educational settings and the key aspects of nonprofits are accountability, trustworthiness, honesty and openness to every person who has invested time, money and faith into the organization. Nonprofit organizations are accountable to the donors, founders, volunteers, program recipients and the public community. Public confidence is a factor in the amount of money that a nonprofit organization is able to raise and the more nonprofits focus on their mission, the more public confidence they will have and as a result, more money for the organization and the activities a nonprofit is partaking in can help build the public's confidence in nonprofits, as well as how ethical the standards and practices are. There is an increasing awareness that management techniques are crucial to project success in non-governmental organizations. Generally, non-governmental organizations that are private have either a community or environmental focus. They address varieties of issues such as religion, emergency aid or humanitarian affairs and they mobilize public support and voluntary contributions for aid and they often have strong links with community groups in developing countries and they often work in areas where government-to-government aid is not possible. NGOs are accepted as a part of the international relations landscape and while they influence national and multilateral policy-making, increasingly they are more directly involved in local action.
Characterizing human life
In India, non-governmental organizations are the most common type of societal institutions that do not have commercial interests. However, they are not the only category of non-commercial organizations that can gain official recognition such as memorial trusts, which honor renowned individuals through social work, may not be considered as NGOs and the informal organisation represents an extension of the social structures that generally characterise human life. The Hope Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to promoting the protection of street and slum children primarily in Calcutta and the most underprivileged in India, where they promote immediate and lasting change in their lives. Through education alone, this charity organization has reached out to almost 25,000 children. Another organization called LittleBigHelp is doing a difference for street children in India and They are running an open shelter near Howrah train station in Calcutta for twentyfive boys who are living on the street and on the platforms of the station and the rough everyday lives of these young boys consist of collecting bottles and other goods left on the trains to sell and earn a few rupees to survive. LittleBigHelp offer the street children a safe alternative to the perils of the street and the station with shelter, protection, education, food, medical care and a place to simply just be a child. Many of the boys are addicted to sniffing glue and have suffered horrific experiences in their lives and they work to secure them a better and safer future off the street and to find them a better alternative. One more organization who is making a difference is Consortium for Street Children, a global alliance who exists to be the global voice of street children and ensure their rights to services, resources, care and opportunities are met.
Let them be heard on Twitter
Some social media sites have potential for content posted there to spread virally over social networks. The term is an analogy to the concept of viral infections, which can spread rapidly from person to person. In a social media context, content or websites that are viral or which go viral are those with a greater likelihood that users will reshare content posted by another user to their social network, leading to further sharing. In some cases, posts containing popular content or fast-breaking news have been rapidly shared and reshared by a huge number of users and many social media sites provide specific functionality to help users reshare content, such as Twitter's retweet button. Businesses have a particular interest in viral marketing tactics because a viral campaign can achieve widespread advertising coverage particularly if the viral reposting itself makes the news for a fraction of the cost of a traditional marketing campaign, which typically uses printed materials, like newspapers, magazines, mailings and billboards and television and radio commercials and nonprofit organizations and activists may have similar interests in posting content on social media sites with the aim of it going viral. A popular component and feature of Twitter is retweeting and Twitter allows other people to keep up with important events, stay connected with their peers and can contribute in various ways throughout social media. Use the hashtag #TweetForTheStreet and let the voices of the street children and street youth be heard on Twitter by telling the stories and the events regarding this topic.
Children who grow up in communities with a collaborative orientation to social interaction, such as on some streets in India, are also able to self-regulate and become very self-confident, while remaining involved in the community. In this street child photograph a boy begging at car windows while several cars are waiting at a red light near the Mumbai station. This is a heart-gripping moment to see both as a traveler and visitor in India and as a photographer documenting the lives of the street children in India.
About the photographers work in India
When the photographer is photographing on location in India he always tries to handle his photographing subjects with the respect that they deserve. All the photos in this blog post about street children were taken near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is an historic railway station in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The railway station is one of the busiest railway stations in India, serving as a terminal for both long-distance trains and commuter trains of the Mumbai Suburban Railway. "- My generally philosophy is to strive to be original in my approach to taking pictures. My aim is to tell a story and to make the viewer connect or identity with that particular image. It could be anything, from a young woman with a striking, haunting face, to idle landscapes in remote regions of Rajasthan. I think that there is beauty in the most mundane things and humanitarian stories to be told - it is reavealing it that is the key. It is all about making my ideas for a photo happen", the photograher says.
Because the street children in India have unique vulnerabilities, the amount of time they spend on the street, their livelihood depending on the street and their lack of protection and care from adults, they are a subgroup of the Indian population that deserve specific attention in order to ensure that their needs are known. As the most vulnerable group of children in India, they need to be understood as much as possible. In this photo two Indian street children are photographed in Mumbai, India.
Children's rights are the human rights of children
Children's rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors. A child as any human person who has not reached the age of eighteen years. Children's rights includes their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child's civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child's race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity or other characteristics. Interpretations of children's rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes abuse is a matter of debate. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing.
Photo essays and humanitarian photography
Kristian Bertel is a dedicated and traveling photographer, seeking out faces that have a story. As he is saying: "- Every street corner is a new adventure, you will never know what to expect next and with street children it is no exception", he says. His imagery has been shown as photo essays online, documenting many aspects of the daily life particularly in India. He works as a photographer and he is available for editorial assignments all over Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Middle East. For further information and inquiries please:
Contact the photographer
More photos from India
If you are interested to see more photos and imagery from India, you can see one of the slideshows, which also appears on the photographer's website.
See the slideshow | press here