Street children plagued by glue sniffing in Pakistan

16:52, June 01, 2011      

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Hamza, 12, a poor beggar, is often found in different posh sectors of Pakistan's capital city Islamabad. Whenever there is a chance, he will steal money to buy a special kind of sniffing glue, which he uses as a drug.

"I ran away from my home when I was six because my family asked me to work hard in a mechanic's shop. The owner beat me with an iron rod, and I didn't know where my parents are or my home is. I never miss them because I leave all my worries behind when I get high with glue," Hamza told Xinhua.

The International Children's Day is being observed in the country on Wednesday, with non-governmental organizations and schools promoting international fraternity and harmony among children from different backgrounds, as well as equal rights for every child. But this day is no more than an "English word" for Hamza, and English is a language which he believes is only known by rich people.

According to data compiled by a non-governmental organization Azad Foundation, there are over 30,000 children addicted to glue sniffing in Pakistan.

Sniffing Glue, locally known as "Samad Bond," is a kind of rubber solution mixed with petrol which is used for binding leather, rubber, textile, and wood or glass. It is easily available at a very cheap price of 30 rupees (34.9 U.S. cents). Children can easily get it and inhale it by spreading and rolling it on a piece of cloth.

Nazim, 11, whose father abandoned her mother with three sons and a daughter aging between 2 to 11 years, said that his whole family begs all day long to earn bread and butter, at night his mother and sister sleep in a small tent and he sniffs glue and sleeps at street with his brothers.

"After inhaling the glue, we do not feel hunger, sometimes we do not feel pain even when we cut ourselves with a knife. It also brings us a peaceful sleep," Nazim said.

Social workers believe that most of the children who are addicted to glue sniffing or other drugs are not in close contacts with their families.

According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) survey, 72 percent of working children do not have contact with their families and 10 percent have no knowledge of their families.

Zubeda Khan, a social worker working with UNODC Pakistan, said that a majority of Glue-sniffing children in the country are orphans and runaway children. They earn their livelihood by cleaning cars at busy business centers, or work as child labors during the day. In the evening they squat together in groups to sniff glue or other drugs.

Nauman, six, a red-haired boy from eastern part of the country who sells flowers at a fuel station, said that he has many friends who sniff glue. They also offer him to sniff it but he refuses for he is afraid that his father would punish him.

Talking to Xinhua, Dr. Imrana Lashari, a reputed psychiatrist, said that humiliating behavior of the society towards poor street children who are also not happy at home sometimes drive some children to take drugs.

"The prolonged agony of constant humiliation as poor rug pickers and beggars drives children's mind into desperate circumstances, and sniffing glue drives many to get high to forget the sense of deprivation and ignominy that rages in their innocent minds," Imrana said.

Health experts believe that glue sniffing is very dangerous for the health of children. Government and social workers should pay attention towards mushroom growth of drug sniffing children.

Talking to Xinhua, Dr. Imran, a medical specialist at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, said that glue sniffing depresses the central nervous system, it also affects the respiratory system and other vital organs of the body which in some severe cases results in deaths of such children.

There is no law in the country against glue sniffing, it is legal for everyone including children to buy glue from the market. Social workers believe that the government should legislate against glue sniffing to check the rising number of glue addicts in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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