South Asia

The situation of children in South Asia
South Asia is home to about 627 million children under 18 years of age1 - approximately 36% of the total population of 1.82 billion.

An estimated 11.3 million children of primary school age (5.8 million girls and 5.5 million boys), and 20.6 million children of lower-secondary school age (8.9 million girls and 11.6 million boys) in South Asia do not go to school. Only 69% of children have access to early childhood education in our region. And significantly, more girls than boys will never go to school in South Asia. This is leading to the highest incidents of child marriage and child labor in the world.

Children separated from their families
Children can be separated from their families during a crisis. Children may also be inappropriately separated and placed in foster care or an institution, due to a perception of family need or sometimes for more illicit reasons. In an institution, the wellbeing of most children is most at risk with institutional care lacking the necessary stimulus for a child to thrive and if separated for more illicit reasons can be the subject of exploitation and abuse. Children may also be separated from their families for their own protection, such as in cases of domestic violence.

Violence against children
Violence against children is widespread and pervasive and remains a harsh reality for millions of children in South Asia which has long-lasting consequences on their lives. Over 21 million children between 5-17 years of age are engaged in child labor in South Asia alone. Violence can be physical, sexual, and emotional and also manifest itself as neglect. It can occur in homes, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces, and communities. Perpetrators include parents, family members, teachers, caretakers, law enforcement authorities, and other children. 

"Source: UNICEF, Humanium, SOS Children's Villages International".

Countries with National Initiatives

Bangladesh Without Orphans

The orphan situation is serious. Bangladesh is the most populated country by density in the world. The country has over 161 million people, with over 64 million children making up around 40 percent. Orphans and street children in Bangladesh are often thrown in jail for petty crimes or abused and subjected to the most atrocious violence; most orphanages are overcrowded and cannot take in these children.

India Without Orphans and Bharathiya Sneha Parivar

Alternative care in India: Orphanages and small family-based styles of care were the only alternative care options available in the past, but the situation is slowly changing. India now has foster care, group foster homes and most recently India introduced domestic adoptions. Reunification of children with relatives is also taking place.

Nepal Without Orphans

There are around 12.7 million children under the age of 18 in Nepal. In recent decades, the number of Nepali orphaned and abandoned children without parental care has increased or are at risk of losing such care. There are various reasons for this rise, including political unrest (particularly armed conflict), the high rate of poverty, and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Sri Lanka Without Orphans

In Sri Lanka today, institutional care is the fate of many children who have been abandoned by their parents. According to UNICEF, out of over 21,000 children in orphanages in Sri Lanka, one or both parents of over 19,000 of them are still alive. There are currently 488 voluntary children’s homes in Sri Lanka. Living conditions for children in some of these homes are less than idyllic.

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