World’s Children works with 28 orphanages and homes for children in India.
View WC Orphanages in India in larger map
Why do we focus most of our work on children in India when the country is rapidly developing? It’s certainly true that India has much to admire and in recent years has made some significant economic advances for its middle and upper classes. But problems rooted in culture and calamity keep much of the population mired in abject poverty.
Children with HIV/AIDS
India has the 3rd-largest HIV-positive population in the world, with an estimated 2.1 million. Though significant government and NGO efforts have slowed the spread of HIV, there is still a stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, which leads to many undiagnosed cases, and many people going without treatment. Many thousands of children have become orphaned due to HIV, and some of them are HIV-positive themselves, with no one to care for them or help them get the treatment they need to maintain their health.
Four out of 10 of the world’s malnourished children live in India. India has more malnourished children than all of Africa. In fact, nearly half of India’s children are underweight, and 75% suffer from anemia.
Highest infant mortality rate
India has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. One infant dies every 15 seconds in this country. Forty-seven percent of the children under the age of five are malnourished. Worldwide, malnutrition accounts for about half of all deaths of children under 5.
Children sold as sex slaves
An estimated 1.2 million children are sex slaves in India; either kidnapped off the streets and sold to brothels or sold by their own families who value money more than their children. Simply put, children are marketable goods in India. Sex trafficking is affecting younger and younger children.
There are more than 11 million abandoned children in India, and more than 90% of them are girls. A cultural bias toward sons over daughters has created massive problems for Indian girls. According to Hindu tradition, a son is expected to take his elderly parents into his home and light their funeral pyre when they die, ensuring that they are heaven-bound. A daughter, on the other hand, will require an enormous dowry paid by her father to the groom’s family. The amount negotiated for bride dowries is staggering and leaves many families deeply in debt, often for the rest of their lives. Many families will tolerate a first daughter, but second and third daughters pose unbearable economic problems because of the dowry custom.
As a result of the preference for sons, daughters are often disposed of early in their life in heartbreaking ways. The British medical journal. The Lancet reported that an estimated 500,000 abortions are performed each year specifically for gender selection, despite gender-selective abortions being outlawed. Families that cannot afford a sonogram and subsequent abortion might wait until the birth and if it is a female quietly suffocate the infant at night or, more humanely, leave the baby at the gate of the nearest orphanage. For that reason, most of the orphanages that World’s Children supports in India have far more girls than boys.
Fifty percent of the girls in India do not enroll in school because they are made to stay home and care for younger siblings or help their mothers with household chores. Many children are forced to work in factories, mines or as domestic help to bring in income for the family. There are 20 million child workers in India. These are not kids with summer jobs; these are young children working full-time in dangerous and exhausting situations.