“Earlier I used to smoke cigarettes after collecting those from my friends …At one stage, I was addicted to drugs like cannabis and phensidyl …I felt good,” said Sayan, a 15-year street child in the city who hails from Sadar upazila of Sirajganj.
Sayan lost his mother at his early age and had been living at a slum in the capital with his father. But after some days he was forced to live in a separate house as his father got married for the second time.
Sayan is now working as a truck helper and earning Taka 250 per day. He spends all of his earning on drugs.
Another boy, Sujon lives with a group of 10-15 boys in a tiny house at Keraniganj, adjacent to the Buriganga river. He spends the whole day collecting rundown metal utensils and other articles known as ‘bhangari’. He usually comes back home in the evening and then get start enjoying ‘dandy’, a kind of narcotic.
According to an ICDDR’B study, carried out in 2016, Bangladesh has 4,45,000 street children. Of them, over 3,00,000 street children are living in the capital and most of them are drug addicts.
Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) sources said although the country has a good number of drug rehabilitation centers, most of these centers have been established without taking any registration from DNC.
“There are only four government drug rehabilitation centers in the country. In the private sector, there are 216 registered rehabilitation centers across the country,” said DNC Director General Mohammad Jamaluddin Ahmed.
About the drug addiction of the street children, the chief narcotics control official said, “We had arranged a meeting on the issue and 17 children were collected by the department. They were handed over to the drug rehabilitation centers for further improvement.”
He said the DNC has a plan to hold a dialogue with the Department of Social Welfare regarding the drug abuse by the street children as it is one of the prime causes of various crimes in the society.