In this hundred and twenty-ninth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we meet a street child with one of her younger siblings in Mumbai, India. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
A street child is seen with one of her younger siblings on the Dadabhai Naoroji Road in Mumbai, India. Mainly because of family conflict, street children come to live on the streets and take on the full responsibilities of caring for themselves, including working to provide for and protecting themselves.
A street child is seen with one of her younger siblings on the Dadabhai Naoroji Road in Mumbai, India. Mainly because of family conflict, street children come to live on the streets and take on the full responsibilities of caring for themselves, including working to provide for and protecting themselves.

Dadabhai Naoroji Rd portraiture

When considering India as a whole, there are over eleven million children who earn their living off the streets in cities and rural areas. 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.

How many street children are there in India?

India has an estimated one million or more street children in each of the following cities, New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Child abandonment in India
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 thirty-two per cent 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.

Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring in an illegal way, with the intent of never resuming or reasserting guardianship. The phrase is typically used to describe the physical abandonment of a child, but it can also include severe cases of neglect and emotional abandonment, such as when parents fail to provide financial and emotional support for children over an extended period of time. An abandoned child is referred to as a foundling as opposed to a runaway or an orphan. Baby dumping refers to parents leaving a child younger than 12 months in a public or private place with the intent of terminating their care for the child. It is also known as rehoming when adoptive parents use illegal means, such as the internet, to find new homes for their children.

"Poverty and homelessness are often causes of child abandonment. People living in countries with poor social welfare systems such as in India and who are not financially capable of taking care of a child are more likely to abandon their children because of a lack of resources"

Shamed by their community
In some cases the parents already have a child or children, but are unable to take care of another child at that time. In societies where women are looked down upon for being teenage or single mothers, child abandonment is more common. Children born out of the confines of marriage may be abandoned in a family's attempt to prevent being shamed by their community. Physical disability, mental illness and substance abuse problems that parents are facing can also cause them to abandon their children. In India, children who are born with congenital disorders or other health complications may be abandoned if their parents feel unequipped to provide them with the level of care that their condition requires.

Reasons why a child is abandoned

In cultures where the sex of the child is of utmost importance, parents are more likely to abandon a baby of the undesired sex. Similarly, people may choose to pursue the often controversial option of sex-selective abortion. Political conditions, such as war and displacement of a family, are also cause for parents to abandon their children. Additionally, a parent being incarcerated or deported can result in the involuntary abandonment of a child, even if the parent or parents did not voluntarily relinquish their parental role. Disownment of a child is a form of abandonment which entails ending contact with and support for, one's dependent. Disownment tends to occur later in a child's life, generally due to a conflict between the parent or parents and the child, but can also occur when children are still young. Reasons include divorce of parents, discovering the true paternity of a child and a child's actions bringing shame to a family, most commonly, breaking the law, teenage pregnancy, major religious or ideological differences.

Runaway children in India
The street children in India as portrayed here by Kristian Bertel | Photography can also be street children because they are the so-called 'Runaways'. A runaway is a minor or depending upon the local jurisdiction a person under a specified age, who has left their parents or legal guardians without permission. Statistics show that females are more likely to run away than males. Runaways have an elevated risk of destructive behavior. Approximately fifty percent of runaways experience difficulties with schooling, including dropping out, expulsion or suspension. Running away can increase the risk of delinquency for adolescents and expose them to the risk of victimization. There have been many studies in multiple countries about street children youth who have run away and are presently homeless, showing that they have a high risk of taking illicit drugs, developing sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, depression, suicide attempts and sexual exploitation.

Conditions with runaway children
Greater proportions of runaway youths experience clinically significant post-traumatic stress disorder than normative youths. Trauma generally begins with runaway youth's experiences within the family and is increased by prolonged traumatic events. The likelihood of depression among female runaways is related to family conflict and communication. Depression in male runaways is typically related to paternal alcohol abuse and family relationships. Negative interactions in relationships within the family appear to greatly influence depressive symptoms for both genders.

Hope of a better life in India
These children are the destitute children and young people who squat, beg and roam in Indian streets. In India, the number of street children is estimated at several million in the country. The city of Mumbai has a very dense railway network which makes it a privileged destination for poor children attracted by the hope of a better life. Once on the street, these children find themselves in a situation of extreme vulnerability. Having fled their homes because of poverty, abuse or mistreatment, they no longer have any alternative and their situation deteriorates. In the worst case, these children will be raped, mutilated or exploited. They very often encounter problems of drug addiction and alcoholism and present a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and most of these street children beg and steal for food, surviving in general indifference.

Action and impact
The children in the streets have mostly run away. The aim for help organizations is to identify new street children very quickly and reintegrate them into their families or redirect them to adoption services if they have been mistreated. As these children are not in school at all, in partnership with local schools, we are re-schooling them. At the day center, the children are entertained and educated.

Celebrating life in India
India is the very first place you must visit as this is an excellent place and India has been celebrating life with all its joys for many years. If you find exotic, colorful and mysterious places unforgettable, this is the best place for you. Despite the changes and diversity in India, the country is still a picturesque and unique travel destination. The photographer has not only examined India's current statistics of street children, but also seen well-known sites like the Taj Mahal or the landscapes like the labyrinthine of the streets or the desert are just a few facets of the incredibly diverse northern India. From Varanasi in the east to Udaipur or Jaisalmer in the west, from the Aravallis to the Ganges plain, all regions and cities worth seeing are described in photographs.

If you are planning an Adventure trip to India, pack your bags now and catch the next flight because in India you will find a unique civilization and culture.

Read also:  Inequality in India

Read also:  Inequality in India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of two street children in Mumbai. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.