Thousands of homeless people live under the streets where their dignity and basic human rights fails to be achieved.
Sleeping in a warm bed and having a roof over your head isn’t a luxury available to everyone. In fact, the people who live in the city’s sewers and underground, better known as the “ Mole people” can prove it. While the lively and clueless cities go on dealing with their daily tasks, thousands of people seek refuge in invisible and filthy underground spaces, where basic human rights are denied. Additionally, these cities are notorious for their exponential poverty and crime rate, such as drug offences (abuse and trafficking), prostitution, sexual assault and theft. Offences some may be coerced into due to their situation.
The victims of this global and social issue are often identified as outcasts by our society, being labelled as: abandoned orphans, drug addicts, cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse victims, or simply people who cannot afford proper housing, like veterans. Furthermore, we can find people who may come from minority groups, for example the LGBT community, many of whom are persecuted for the way they are by their own country and thus left to fend for themselves. A conspicuous part of them is even born in those inhumane places and doesn’t own a birth certificate, thus they are rejected by the government.
These people not only have hit the lowest point a human being can reach, but they are also vulnerable to dangerous diseases and infections spread by human and animal waste as they live amongst rats, spiders and bats. However, that’s not the only hazard they face. In fact, they also have to be cautious while sleeping in places like these, especially when floods occur as many of their lives could be wiped away within minutes by the rising level of the sewage water.
Unfortunately, the unsafe and pestilent environment where they survive isn’t the only enemy they have to tackle on a daily basis. Often, their biggest enemy is their fellow human being. In particular, in some Hispanic countries, the government has imposed the common practice of “social cleansing”, a process which has the objective to clean the cities out of undesirable individuals, and, in some cases, this is done by killing them or beating them continuously. This leads them to a nomadic life where they live in a constant state of fear and horror, unprotected and unaided by the authorities, authorities which prefer to give a perfect impression of the city by pushing the issue under the rug instead of actually solving the root of this shameful social problem.
These unfortunate people, forgotten and treated with indifference, tend to lose the notion of time and their last glimmer of hope as a result of living underground. In order to cope with their addiction and harsh reality, many of them engage in criminal behaviours to keep up with their drug abuse. The majority of them can’t afford the pricey drugs on the market, so they have to poison their bodies with cheap hallucinogens, such as glue or its derivatives: aerosols, cleaners and other household chemicals. Consequently, these life-threatening practices lead to untreatable brain damage, lung and heart failure only to enjoy some minutes of euphoria and to forget about the hunger pains. Moreover, drug addiction and the sharing of needles results in the spreading of serious blood diseases, such as AIDS, HIV and Hepatitis C. Evidently, the “Mole People” don’t usually have access to healthcare and go untreated, resulting frequently in death.
The situation becomes even delicate when talking about women and children. In fact, numerous women take part unwillingly in the social phenomenon of prostitution in order to feed themselves and to survive. They are frequently victims of heinous crimes and sexual assaults, being seen as just objects, unworthy of attention or care. As a result, many are left with unwanted pregnancies and they’re also unable to have access to abortion, resulting in a never-ending cycle of homelessness and poverty, as children are then brought up in that same environment. Even children, who should go to school and live care-free lives, end up learning to steal and survive on the streets at a young age. Despite this, one of the most shocking aspects is that children with this type of upbringing grow up believing that this is the only way to live, never fully realising that out of the sewers and out of this poverty there is much more that life could offer, thus restricting their progression through life and later integration into society.
The question is: can we really blame them? At the end, they are the victims of an unfair system which promotes the idea that poverty and homelessness are a personal choice. Once we stop blaming all of them for the situation they live in, and actually give a hand to make it possible for them to rebuild their life and and gain their rights and dignity back, we will understand that no one should be trying to survive in these conditions and how inhumane it is, to allow it to go on.
By Ancuta Raluca Rusu
Sept. 29, 2020