Police records shed some insight
into the numbers with 42,505 children being arrested on the streets in 2001 with
10,958 of them being charged with being 'vulnerable to delinquency', that is
they have committed a crime just by having no responsible adult to care for them. The
average age of those arrested was thirteen years old.
Most of these children try and support themselves by shining shoes, selling
trinkets, begging and cleaning. However for many life is more than harsh with
most doing whatever is needed to survive.
Most report that they have been subjected to violence and have also been
subjected to some form of rape. Many of these children end up on the streets to
find work in a country where 40% live below the poverty line or escape violence
at home. One thirteen year old describes life after he ran away from home aged
just nine. “When I see other children on their way to school, I wish I could be
like them. Here on the streets, I have no future.”
Two thirds of these street children in Egypt, an issue which is by no means exclusive to Cairo, state that they misuse
substances ranging from glue to Bungo ~ local cannabis. Reasons cited include
stress, to aid sleep on the streets, cope with pain and hunger and to numb the
violence inflicted by other, older street children, security forces and even the
general public. In fact 86% of street children in a survey stated that violence
was the main issue for them whilst homeless.