Poverty, is the single largest social denominator which neatly divides the society between the haves and have-nots and the ever-increasing exodus of middle class population tightly wedged between the two extremes. The looming shadow of poverty hangs heavily on the economic, social, psychological and physiological bearing of those suppressed beneath its burden.
Poverty or the inability to meet even the basic necessities of life aims to erode the very right ofa person to live life with dignity. Where basic needs like the next meal, a shelter over one’s head, clothes to provide cover are not met, being able to provide for education, recreation or medical facility is unheard of.
It is not hard to imagine how this life of abject destitution and penury would affect the fragile young minds, bodies and hearts. Being exposed to such material deprivatio increases manifold the chance of being subject to abuse of all kinds from a tender age. Child labour, child exploitation, street violence, domestic ill-treatment, bullying, sexual abuse are atrocities they face and encounter from their early years. No wonder then violence becomes a norm in their way of life and it is a constant struggle to either fight back or perish in such an environment.
The probability of being lured into crime as a temporary breather from such misery cannot be ruled out. The statistics is even more dismal when it comes to female child. Limited resources are allocated based on power equation at home and in the society and women find themselves much behind in this ladder. Child marriage, early pregnancy, repeated pregnancies, rape, domestic abuse aggravates their suffering to unimaginable proportions.
With little recourse to law and other safety measures, the scars remain life-long and the cycle persists through generations.
Physically poor levels of nutrition, lack of proper medical aid and advice, lack of vaccination facilities, child marriages lead to poor health and high infant mortality. Death through accidents is a common occurrence where day-to-day life is met with constant hurdles and life-threatening obstacles. The government medicals aids and hospitals either are not accessible or far below in terms of rendering quality service.
Though government does provide free and compulsory education in all government school below the age of 14 and a mid-day meal to lure children within its corridors, yet a major chunk remains deprived on account of the need for every member to lend an earning hand, the earlier the better. The quality of education provided in these government school is so substandard that it no way provides a way out from the clutches of this vicious cycle as only quality education can. Noise, disruption, family atmosphere, street brawls, lack of adequate lighting facility also make it difficult for those dwelling in poverty to embrace the change and the true value of education is also realized too late in life. By that time, the damage is irreversible.
The emotional and mental effects are far reaching. A permanent sense of low self-esteem, lack of confidence and inadequacy is their constant companion. Their stress hormone cortisol responsible for regulating body’s response to threat from external changes is always spiked up leading to constantly feeling victimised, threatened and insecurity. Poorer mental health affects their ability to learn and adjust. If living a life constantly under the glare of poverty doesn’t kill them, it certainly leaves them weaker and withered and beaten.
The circumstance under which life is suffered under the shadow of poverty certainly leaves any individual much the worse as it deprives him of the right to achieve his potential as free and equal member of society.
However, it is also true that some of the most illuminating examples of humanity, sensitivity and empathy has emerged from the darkest recesses of poverty. Life redeems and allows us to hope that better access to better opportunities and facilities of life shall perhaps one day help to free them from these shackles and allow to live life as an equal and deserving member of the society.