Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Decriminalising Beggary – Pros and Cons
Don Bosco Veedu Society has always taken the lead role in the campaign towards the eradication of child begging and child labour. On January 2007, The Society’s efforts had borne fruit. Trivandrum District was declared as Child Begging Free District by the Government, recognizing the efforts of Don Bosco.

Sukhwinder (given name) was a child beggar rescued by the railway rescue booth staff at Thiruvananthapuram Railway Station. The 12 year old boy had one of his eyes covered by a scrap cloth. We rehabilitated the boy to our shelter home. Upon medical examination, it was evident that the child had a clear 10/10 vision for both eyes. He was used for begging and eyes were covered to generate sympathy from onlookers.
 Begging may no longer be a criminal offence if a Bill drafted by the Government seeking to decriminalise beggary is passed. The Bill offers a life of dignity to the beggars, homeless and others who live in poverty or abandonment. The draft ‘the persons in destitution (protection, care and rehabilitation) Bill 2015’ looks at the issue as a social menace. Under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, begging is a crime and a person found begging can be sent to a shelter home or even jail without trial.

The Bill calls for State governments to constitute Outreach and Mobilisation Units in districts and conduct surveys for the purpose of mapping areas and identifying persons in destitution, create awareness among them about the Act and provide them assistance in procuring documents required to avail the benefits of any such scheme or legislation.

There is also provision to establish rehabilitation centres for the care, protection and vocational or skill development training for such people and these centre will be adequately staffed and supported by qualified persons such as doctors, social workers, counsellors and vocational training instructors. The Bill also focuses on establishing separate rehabilitation centres for women and differently-abled destitute and suggests that the existing shelters running for the destitute and homeless to be upgraded in such a manner that it provides comprehensive services for their rehabilitation.

India has over 4 lakh beggars with West Bengal's 81,000 being the maximum among the states, according to official figures. There are 4,13,670 beggars - 2.2 lakh males and 1.91 lakh females - in the country, Minister of State for Social Justice Vijay Sampla said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

West Bengal with 81,244 beggars topped the list followed by 65,835 in Uttar Pradesh, 30,218 in Andhra Pradesh, 29,723 in Bihar and 28,695 in Madhya Pradesh. Incidentally, in Assam, Manipur, and West Bengal female beggars outnumbered their male counterparts. However, the Union Territories recorded the least number of beggars. The archipelago of Lakshadweep has only two beggars as per the government record, followed by Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and the Andaman and Nicobar islands with 19, 22 and 56 respectively. Of all the UTs, Delhi recorded the largest number of beggars - 2,187 followed by Chandigarh with 121.

Among the north-eastern states Assam topped the list with 22,116 beggars while Mizoram with 53 was ranked lowest. Around 22 states/UTs have adopted or brought in legislation against begging, the minister said.

If money is given directly to child beggars, there’s a very good chance that we’re actually lining the pockets of criminals who will in turn use it to kidnap, rape, and maim even more kids. What if we don’t give them money? Then the situation is even more devastating since enslaved children who return to their captors without money are beaten and tortured. However, by giving them money, we are encouraging the vicious cycle and finance a horrific business model, putting their future in grave danger. Summing it up, when we give money directly to children, we hurt more than we help.

Government must provide free education to the people who are under poverty line and must tell them the importance of studying, the importance of hardwork and the importance of finding  happiness. It will come, when they will work for themselves and their family also they must be educated about child labour and also tell them it is not good for their children to work in such a small age as this is an obstacle in their child’s physical and mental growth.

Our work continues as long as there are children in distress in Trivandrum