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KARACHI: Urging the general public to discourage ‘beggar mafia’, Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani on Sunday said the provincial government had formed a committee to bring about tangible changes in the child protection law to protect vulnerable children.

“The Sindh cabinet has formed a committee, led by Adviser to the CM on Law Murtaza Wahab to suggest amendments to the Child Protection Act for its better enforcement,” said Mr Ghani while delivering his keynote speech at the concluding session of Iqra University’s debate on issues and reforms vis-à-vis children on the streets, on the varsity’s campus.

Mr Ghani said poverty was the key reason behind an alarmingly increase in the number of child beggars, with thousands of those who lived on streets.

He conceded that public sectors educational institutions too were not doing what they were supposed to do.

He added there was already a scheme in place in Sindh in which stipends were being paid as an incentive to the parents of children belonging to poor families.

However, he said, such scheme should be more effective to discourage the families who were involved in thrusting their children in child labour or encouraging them to live a vulnerable life on unsympathetic streets.

He said certain powerful mafias were playing a major role in exploiting the children at risk.

“These children, unfortunately, are fodder for the mafias to mint huge money by putting them in the beggary racket. Beggary itself a grave crime, but what these mafias do is even greater offence; they make the children, who are born healthy, handicapped through different inhuman means to earn more money.”

He said such cruel practices, unfortunately, were rampant “in our society”.

He said the government was trying to make its law more efficient and ensure they were implemented to its spirit, but society should not distance itself from righting the wrong and playing its part.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018