Latur is a city located in the Maharashtra state, in the centre of India. It is the second most populous state in India and has around 500,000 inhabitants. The region of Latur is known as the Sugar Belt of India, due to the 11 sugar factories in the region.
However, poverty still exists in the state: 20 million people live below the poverty line.
Children are at risk in these difficult living conditions – they need extra support so that they grow up healthily and can get an education.
Since 1994, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Latur.
An approximate 2,5 million people live with HIV/AIDS in India, of which 70,000 are children.
The Maharashtra state, where Latur is located, has the highest number of people living with HIV in the whole of India, 330,000 people to be precise. Of those people, 13,000 are children. Furthermore, annually, 9,000 people die of AIDS in the state. This is 15% of all AIDS fatalities in India.
Children who live in families affected by HIV/AIDS often face stigmatization and need to look after themselves and their siblings.
India has the highest number of child marriages in the world. This means a harrowing 27% of women aged 20 to 24 were first married before 18.
Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancies, and domestic violence.
In the state of Maharashtra specifically, where Latur is located, 26% of girls were married as a child. The government has to work hard in order to meet its target to end child marriages by 2030.