IT is almost impossible to find a street without beggars. According to estimates, there are between five and 25million beggars in the country, which is approximately 2.5 to 11 per cent of our population.

There can be several causes of begging — abject poverty and unemployment. But it has also been observed that most beggars do not spend alms on their food. Instead, they use the money for survival. They neither have their homes nor do they live in rental houses. Thus, no one knows where the money is being utilised.

In the wake of Covid-19, groups of beggars can be seen roaming streets. They are mostly children in the age bracket of four to 12 years. They all seem to be well-trained in the art of begging and they keep pestering people until they are given alms.

Their shabby appearance attracts people’s attention and helps them in gaining the people’s sympathy. Most children begging in the streets are barefooted with dirty and tattered clothes.

I recently saw more than 10 child beggars. They all claimed to be fatherless having five to 10 dependents. This left me thinking how can it be possible for a child to be responsible for a family despite having a mother? Or are they working for a beggar mafia?

This is despite the fact that we do have laws to control beggary. In 2018, the Sindh cabinet imposed a complete ban on child beggary by directing the social welfare department to pick up children begging in the province and rehabilitate them at welfare centers.

I urge the authorities concerned to look into the matter and rescue hundreds and thousands of innocent children from this mafia.

Fahad Rind

Johi

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2020

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