India is the worlds largest democracy with a population of over a billion-400 million of which are children. India is known for its multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious background. It has 15 official languages and 36 states and union territories. There are approximately 673 million Hindus, 95 million Muslims,19 million Christians, 16 million Sikhs, 6 million Buddhists and 3 million Jainsin India. Approximately 26% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line and 72 % live in rural areas.
It is estimated that India currently has 5.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS and about 310,000 persons died of AIDS in India in 1999. UNICEF estimates that 30,000 babies are born HIV positive each year. Even thought the percentage of the Indian population infected with HIV/AIDS is 0.9%, it has the second largest number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world, the first being South Africa. Despite the many recorded gains in the recent past, issues such as gender inequity, poverty, illiteracy and the lack of basic infrastructure play an important role in hindering HIV/ AIDS prevention and treatment programs in India.
The impact of the AIDS crisis has not begun to fully emerge in India and AIDS related orphaning has not been documented. Yet, it is estimated that India has the largest number of AIDS orphans of any country and this number is expected to double in the next five years. Out of the 55,764 identified AIDS cases in India 2,112 are children. It is estimated that 14% of the 4.2 million HIV/AIDS cases are children below the age of 14. A study conducted by the ILO (international Labour Organization) found that children of infected parents are heavily discriminated-35% were denied basic amenities and 17% were forced to take up petty jobs to augment their income.
Child labor in India is a complex problem and is rooted in poverty. Census 1991 data suggests that there are 11.28 million working children in India. Over 85% of this child labor is in the country’s rural areas and this number has risen in the past decade. The girl child is particularly vulnerable. Even though the Indian government has passed over 9 acts prohibiting and limiting child labor, the number of children in the work force has not diminished. Conservative estimates state that around 300, 000 children in India are engaged in commercial sex.
Its shocking that Child prostitution is socially acceptable in some sections of Indian society through the practice of Devadasi. Young girls from socially disadvantaged communities are given to the 'gods' and they become a religious prostitute. Devadasi is banned by the Prohibition of Dedication Act of 1982. This system is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,Tamil Nadu,Kerala, Maharashtra,Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. More than 50 % of the devadasis become prostitutes: of which nearly 40 per cent join the sex trade in urban brothels and the rest are involved in prostitution in their respective villages. According to the National Commission on Women an estimated 250,000 women have been dedicated as Devadasis in Maharashtra-Karnataka border. A study conducted in 1993 reported that 9% of the devadasis are HIV positive in Belgaum district in Karnataka. Human Rights Watch estimates that approximately 18 million children live or work on the streets of India. Majority of these children are involved in crime, prostitution, gang related violence and drug trafficking.
Eventually all patients with AIDS cases in high risk states are to be treated. A new law is being drafted under which doctors will no longer be able to refuse treatment to people with HIV and discrimination against children with HIV will also be banned . Harsher penalties for selling fake medicines or making claims about the effects of untested medicines are also likely to be included in the legislation. There are approximately 470 NGOs working with vulnerable children in India and 30 directly work with AIDS orphans.
Please Help the AIDS orphans and poor children. If you find some one Please Join them in nearby one of NGOs or in an Orphanage.