My article on female street children in Egypt and their gender-specific experiences was published by the Daily News Egypt on November 17, 2013. Below you can see an excerpt of the article.
Interestingly, we mostly discuss street children as if they are a homogeneous group, as if they have no age or gender, although it is evident that the experiences of a 5-year old boy in the street strongly differ from those of a teenage girl. Street children are not ageless, and they are not genderless. They have different backgrounds and experiences, different problems and certainly, different needs. Our discussions about street children become much more interesting when they become more specific: when we talk about working children, street leaders, drug dealers and addicts, or about street girls. When these discussions become more differentiated, more meaningful questions are asked: what does a street girl experience because she is in the street and what does she experience because she is a girl? How does she deal with these gender-specific differences? How does she shape them herself?
Although all street children have something in common, that they are perceived to be unwashed, poor beggars, girls are still viewed very differently than boys. For instance, street girls are more likely to be stigmatised as immoral people, even as prostitutes. They are often exposed to more (sexual) violence. At the same time, they are the subject of more pity than boys. They earn more money when begging, especially when they are holding a baby in their arms. Girls’ experiences in the street are hence not better or worse per se, but without a doubt, they are inherently different. To really understand street girls’ lives in the street, their problems and needs, one has to examine and analyse these differences.
Read the full article here.