There are an estimated 400 million abandoned children around the world, does anyone care?

By Nina Steele 

Abandoned childrenWhat a crazy world we live in! On the one hand we have women suffering extreme stigma for not being able to procreate, while on the other hand it is estimated that “over 400,000,000 abandoned children live on their own on the streets of hundreds of cities around the world”. The figures are staggering and poverty is often the main factor. Many of the children are abandoned at birth and naturally, there are many others who never make it.

The breakdown of that figure according to country makes for sobering reading. In China for example, it is estimated that around 10,000 children are abandoned each year. Many of the children are abandoned because of illnesses that their families cannot afford to treat. Also, girls are often the ones who end up being abandoned because of the traditional preference for boys. In Nigeria, the number of abandoned children, often referred to as orphans, is estimated to be around 7 million. Many of these children have living parents who choose to abandon them, primarily because of poverty. In India, the figures stand at around 20 million. Again, poverty is the main cause.

The pattern is the same around the world, particularly in developing countries. Children are abandoned because their biological parents are too poor to look after them. Some of those children will end up in orphanages, while others will be left to fend for themselves on the streets. Many will end up working as prostitutes either for themselves or being forced into the trade by human traffickers. It makes you wonder why we are still stigmatising childless people, particularly in those poor parts of the world, where most of the abandoned children come from. Surely, shouldn’t the focus be on fighting poverty?

Instead of blindly upholding tradition by encouraging everyone to have children, the focus should be on educating populations across the globe, so people understand that having children you cannot afford is wrong.

There would inevitably be those who would argue that telling people not to have children because they are poor, means that only those with money will be able to procreate. Well to that argument I say, what about the rights of the child? Often, the people making such arguments have no experience of what it feels like to live on the street. Because, I suspect that anyone who has ever experienced such a dehumanising way of life, would not advice anyone to bring children into the world to suffer the same fate.

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