DERA GHAZI KHAN

The beggar mafia is using children for begging in busy markets, on pavements and in front of mosques of the city with the sole aim to accumulate money at the cost of kids’ future.

Child beggars are seen everywhere in Rabiul Awal. A sudden surge in the number of child beggars clearly indicates the presence of a number of groups that have reactivated in the areas.

This scribe met with five-year-old Kiran at Sabzi Mandi Road where she was begging in the getup of injured child. She was very innocent and not aware of her total earning in a day as her mother took the charity money from her after frequent intervals. Her mother was sitting behind a vendor stall.

Her mother on request of anonymity said that she earned Rs300 to Rs500 in a day from one child through this begging. She also said that her two sons were also busy begging at traffic Chowk and Liaqat Bazaar.

At Saddr Bazaar, one Umar was showing himself a handicapped boy. He said that he earned more than Rs500 everyday and handed over all the money to his father. He was not wearing shoes and his feet were badly injured. He said that his father was a heroin-addict and therefore he did not do any work. It was observed that people give more charity to disable children as compared to normal ones.

Divisional Member In-charge for Punjab Ombudsman/Child Commissioner at DG Khan Malik Ahmad Bakhsh Bapha said beggar mafias exploit the innocence of children for their nefarious motives. People have the tendency to provide alms and charity to the poor. Due to such trend, begging has become quite rampant because a section of people are very happy to give money to beggars.

Malik added that poverty, unemployment and hunger are rampant. Moreover, the state does not have much resource to provide substantial relief to the destitute people. “The state is responsible for providing basic rights of health, education, healthy nutrition and suitable living environment for children,” he said.

“Pakistan had signed United Nations Convention on Child Rights on 12th of December, 1990. In 2011 Pakistan had become the 144th country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. But the situation of children in Pakistan remains precarious and nothing significant had been done to implement the convention,” Malik said.

He added that it may not be difficult to provide one-time meal to poor children; however, fighting against beggar mafia certainly requires much work, both from government and non-governmental organisations.