City News - May 24, 2007
Prodita Sabarini, The
Pass a red light in the morning, the children are there; in the day time, the weather-beaten children are there; in the afternoon, as well as the evening, midnight, and even dawn, the children are still there. From toddlers with their mothers sitting on the roadside, up to scruffy pubescent teens, the children are a fixture of traffic lights, public buses and parks.
Data from the Social Affairs Ministry showed the city had some 30,000 street children on 2005. While there has not been another survey since then, volunteer worker Heru Suprapto from the
"It's obvious just by looking at the streets, there are more and more children there," he said. Street children are likely to become victims of violence. Sexual abuse against street children has been frequently reported in the media, the latest case being in Bekasi earlier this month. The body of a six-year-old boy, showing signs of sexual abuse, was found in a cardboard box at a bus stop.
The bitter reality of being young and poor in
"The violence faced by the poor is against human rights, but since they're poor they don't have much power to fight back," he said. A skinny 16-year-old boy, Zulfikar, said a public order officer "scraped" him off the street and placed him in the Kedoya Social institution in
He was taken to the
"It's as if, because we're poor, we have no place in this city," said Zulfikar's friend, 17-year-old Dedi Yansen Apriyansyah. Dedi has been on
Arist said the public order bylaw views street children as criminals rather than victims.
The deputy head of the Jakarta Public Order Agency R Sitinjak said public order officers did not commit violence against street children. "There is no such thing," he said. Sitinjak said officers took public order offenders, such as side walk vendors and three-in-one jockeys to the Kedoya rehabilitation institution. "I don't know about violence there since it's run by the social agency," he said.
Arist said public perceptions of street children should also be altered. "Street children are stigmatized as troubled and poor, which stops them from functioning in society," he said. Dedi said that some of his friends were lucky enough to enroll in school. But even there they faced mockery from their fellow students and even their teachers.
Dedi said he aspires to be a journalist. Under the guidance of volunteer workers from The Jakarta Center for Street Children, he produces a weekly bulletin, named Dekkil Pos (an abbreviation of "Dengan kata kita lawan" -- "With words we fight") about life on the streets.
"I'm not that worthless. I can be good at something if I get the chance," he said.
Source: The Jakarta Post