The nuisance of begging... By Irum
01 January, 2013
Begging is a serious social problem in many developing countries because of poverty and unemployment. There are so many beggars in Pakistan that we just do not know who the 'deserving' ones are. We cannot resist giving something to child beggars but, at the same time, one does not know what they will use the money for. The truth behind the begging 'industry' is spine chilling. It has been shown that beggars are not independent but are instead part of a very dense network of criminals — the beggar mafia, which recruits abducted or trafficked children, chops off their limbs and forces them to beg on the streets. The children are given a target for money collection and if they do not meet it, they are tortured and abused in the most unimaginable ways.
Furthermore, in order to make sure these children do not run away, they are drugged and made into addicts. There are many reasons behind this begging phenomenon. Some people are physically incapable of doing work as they are disabled and there is no other way for them to earn, some people take to begging due to religious sanction — some religious teachers encourage people to become beggars — and there are also organisations in which they train children. Female beggars play on human emotions by showing medical prescriptions while carrying newborn babies and begging people for money. On the other hand, young children, mostly young males, choose new tactics like cleaning one's car screen at traffic signals. Some pretend to be blind to gain sympathy.
Some NGOs in Lahore have collaborated to prepare a useful training manual for street children, which provides them with means to better cope with the hazards inherent to their circumstances. More NGOs, particularly those concerned with illiteracy, should turn their attention towards street children, even if it requires extra effort and enticement. The World Health Organisation (WHO) affirms that imparting street education is an effective way of protecting vulnerable children against hazardous behaviour, sexual abuse and disease. Trying to educate such children in their neighborhoods could prove more fruitful than many futile NGO attempts to enhance universal literacy by wrangling with the public education system. The need of the hour is to put this social evil to an end. Healthy beggars should be made to work, and disabled, crippled and blind beggars should be maintained at state expense. They should be kept in some suitable houses outside the city where they are fed at government expense.
As a nation aspiring to achieve higher living standards, we should take effective measures to curb the rising begging problems in our country. There should be more use of the mass media to create awareness and there should be universal education free of cost to distribute the light of knowledge among these people. Not only should begging be declared illegal by an act of parliament but public opinion should also be educated against it. Those who give alms to strong and able-bodied men, women and children should be punished. Begging should be banned in Pakistan by law.