Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where Are the Rights of Egypt's Most Vulnerable Children?

Today is Blog Action Day 2013, an event in which bloggers around the world write on the same day about the same global topic to help raise awareness. So far 1,975 blogs from 124 countries across 26 languages are participating. This year the topic selected is Human Rights. 
Human Rights according to the United Nations, are inherent to all human beings regardless of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. I choose to focus on the rights of, or rather the lack of, the most vulnerable children.

I am writing this post to draw attention to the plight of the most abused, deprived and vulnerable children in Egypt who's childhood, dreams and innocence have been stollen and rights have been negated. Egypt's street children are children who have been doomed to a life of verbal, physical and sexual abuse, from the minute they were born until their often tragic death. These children are primarily victims of an abusive parent or family whom they have escaped from to the streets, and are also victims of a society that turned it's back on them by ostracizing and rejecting them instead of caring for and supporting them. They are children who have been forced to a harsh life in the streets begging, selling small items, trafficking in drugs or been subject to prostitution in order to survive. In their struggle to live they have been exposed to addiction, exploitation, humiliation, rape and violence by various adults, family members and strangers.

This post called "Street Children: The Shackles of Vulnerability vividly paints some of the horrors that these children endure in their short yet miserable life. Many heart breaking stories are recounted in this blog post by Nelly Ali, a lecturer and Childhood Studies PhD candidate with a big heart who dedicates a lot of her time and effort to street children in Egypt.

Although there are no official statistics, it has been estimated that there are around two million street children in Egypt according to a 2011 study, conducted by Egypt’s National Center for Social and Criminological Research (NSCR). One thing is for certain though, these numbers have grown over the past two years and continue to do so. Street children are marginalized and treated as outcast by society and often neglected by the government. They are mostly aided by NGOs and charities which are often supported by compassionate individuals engaged in civil society work.  

We should all ask ourselves these questions: Don't these children have the right to a better life? Don't they too have the right to safety, shelter, health and education among other things, yet above all the right to be cared for and loved? Don't we all have a responsibility towards them, to make their life better? Let us work together to improve their living condition. Your contribution is crucial to achieve that. Here is what we can do for them:
  • Offer a smile, a gentle touch or a casual conversation to a street child you encounter. That in itself can mean a lot to them.
  • Research which NGOs help street children and get involved.
  • Seek shelters for street children and find ways to support them 
  • Visit street children in shelters and show them that they are loved and cared for by visiting them periodically.
  • Campaign to exert pressure on the government to build more shelters for street children and design rehabilitative programs in order to integrate them into the society.
  • Help raise awareness about their plight through articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos.
  • Above all, let's not just feel sorry for them, lets take action!

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