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Escaping Violence, Seeking Freedom: Why Children in Bangladesh Migrate to the Street

Alessandro Conticini
David Hulme


In Bangladesh, as in many developing countries, there is a widespread belief amongst the public, policymakers and social workers that children 'abandon' their families and migrate to the street because of economic poverty. This dominant narrative posits that children whose basic material needs cannot be met within the household move to the street. It ignores and avoids the growing evidence that this is not the case. This paper explores this argument through the analysis of detailed empirical research with children in Bangladesh. It finds that social factors lie behind most street migration and, in particular, that moves to the street are closely associated with violence to, and abuse of, children within the household and local community. These findings are consistent with the wider literature on street migration from other countries. In Bangladesh, those who seek to reduce the flow of children to the streets need to focus on social policy, especially on how to reduce the excessive control and emotional, physical and sexual violence that occurs in some households. Economic growth and reductions in income poverty will be helpful, but they will not be sufficient to reduce street migration by children.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Bangladesh Working Paper


Bangladesh social relations childhood poverty migration urban areas violence household surveys


PRCPB_WP_10.pdf PDF 175.1 KB

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