On a macro- level there is an urgent need to protect the girl child. In Mumbai, numerous shelters exist for boys with hardly 10% of space and funds being allocated to the girl child. Most NGOS shy away from setting up girl shelters due to the “added responsibility” they have to undertake when looking after girls.
Culturally, working with the girl child presents many challenges, such as getting them married, providing a dowry, supporting the girls after graduation from school or helping them become sustainable on their own (which can be difficult due to job placement issues for women), as well as dealing with an increased risk of sexual exploitation. Thus the existence of the Sharanam Centre plays a vital role within the NGO sector.
Some of the harsh realities faced by children in India are presented below:
Less than half of India's children between the age 6 and 14 go to school.
95 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their fifth birthday.
Only 38% of India's children below the age of 2 years are immunized.
Amongst married women in India today, 75% were under age at the time of their marriages.
58% of India's children below the age of 2 years are not fully vaccinated. And 24% of these children do not receive any form of vaccination.
More that 50% of India's children are malnourished.
More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12.
19% of children employed work as domestic help.
25% of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation in India are below 18 years of age.
Large numbers of children work simply because there is no alternative - since, they do not have access to good quality schools.
Poor and bonded families often "sell" their children to contractors who promise lucrative jobs in the cities and the children end up being employed in brothels, hotels and domestic work. Many run away and find a life on the streets.
The situation of the girl child in India is even worse:
1 out of every 6 girls does not live to see her 15th birthday.
Every sixth girl child's death is due to gender discrimination.
1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4.
Death rate among girls below the age of 4 years is higher than that of boys. Even if she escapes infanticide or feticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child.
53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.