Wednesday September 28, 2022

Child beggars, a heartrending sight

August 07, 2022

Poverty forces the city’s marginalised population to beg from street to street. Suffering from significant income loss parents send their children to beg. Streets, footpaths, markets, transportation terminals, and crowded parks in cities are usually the locales of child beggars.

“Child beggars at busy traffic signals are a common sight in the city. They are often a heartrending sight and we impulsively succumb to their plea for money. In reality, the money we give is not so much for the child as it is for the pleasure of seeing the young beggar smile at our charitable act,” says Saleem Haider.

“Beggary is a racket operated by professionals who control territory. Beggars pay rent to reserve a particular area for themselves and the busier the site, the higher the rent. When we give money directly to child beggars, we hurt more than we help. However, the imperative to not give money doesn’t mean we have to turn our backs on them,” adds Saleem.

“For 11-year-old Ghazala, the people visiting this bazaar are her means to survive. She walks up to each person with her small bowl and asks for money. From some, she receives ten-rupee notes. Others ignore her. However, she is not discouraged. She just moves on to others,” tells Najam, a shopkeeper in Commercial Market Satellite Town.

Farah is a thin girl with dark and unkempt, curly hair begging in Shah Khalid Colony Bazaar. Her dress is so dirty that its color is bizarre, and one of the sleeves is torn. Repeatedly, she scratches her head as she begs for money.

“As soon as I collect a reasonable amount of money, I run to my blind mother, who sits in front of a shop with my 4-year-old sister. Since my mother has poor eyesight, I keep her at one point to beg, and I go to places where it is more crowded. Wherever I give the money I make to my mother, she becomes very happy. But at times, when I make small money, I feel sad,” says Farah.

Zeenat begs in Gulzar-e-Quaid to support her family. “After my father died, I have been doing this to feed my brother, sister, and myself,” she says, showing a family photo with her father before his death.