In densely populated country like Pakistan, one can easily observe the presence of street beggars hanging around in pitiable conditions. Although people began begging due to multiple reasons such as poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, yet beggars are a blot on humanity. Begging is as easy as falling of a log; therefore it is a shortcut for earning normal livelihood. This is the reason why most of the physically fit youngsters in Pakistan opt for such pathetic job. Begging on the streets has engendered a venomous practice. Indeed, begging has become a profession supervised by Mafia rackets that train, recruit and relocate young men, women and children. The Mafia lords run groups of beggars who pay them extortion on daily basis.
These beggars use different techniques and tactics by exaggerating their condition to utmost deprivation. It is a dilemma in our society that young children are kidnapped or picked up from homes, orphanages or streets, molested and forced to beg. Ironically, these children are made addicted to lethal drugs that are injurious to their health. Almost all the child beggars are addicted to solvents, alcohol and charras (powerful Afghan hashish often laced with opium). This drives the children to forget where they are, but it also helps the gang masters to keep them under control. In a report conducted by UN Human rights watch it was noted that a large number of child beggars in underdeveloped countries faced symptoms of mental disorder, while some were even vulnerable to aids. Kids like Zeeshan alias ‘shani’ are addicted to lethal drugs and even molested by their masters like sex slaves.
Although many non-governmental and international organizations are working to prevent children falling into clutches of gangsters, yet millions of children are living a devastating life.
In addition to that young women are highly involved in street begging. In the most poverty ridden families, men are accompanied by their women to beg for alms. Young girls are preferred for this purpose as they easily attract the glance of public. These female beggars know human psychology and work according to that.
A recent research showed that babies are rent out to young ladies on daily basis in Pakistan for an amount of 1500 rupees. These females then carry babies to crowded areas where they pursue the people so doggedly that people are fed up with them. Once outside the railway station, I met a women street beggar who likely in her twenties, in a grim condition, wearing half torn clothes, rolling with her untidy bushy hairs, lifting a baby who seemed to be vague in the red-hot heat of summer, depicted herself in extreme helplessness.
Though the smell coming out of her unclean body was malodorous, I didn’t hesitate to pause for a while to know about her. By throwing her a 100 rupee note, I persuaded her to disclose herself righteously in return of a reward. At first, she abstained from stating anything but a 500 rupee note was enough for her to expose the ground realities.
She told her name as Rehana and lives in a dirty shack on the outskirts of Lahore. She wasn’t the mother of that baby and told me how the whole drama is planned,
“I take one baby with me every day. I feed the baby with half a bean of opium. He sleeps quietly on the street, and I roam here and there pointing towards him. Before going back to my place, I pour water on his face, and make him drink water. Sometimes he vomits!”
When I asked her that why she doesn’t do any other work, she argued that,
“No one would like to give us any job, we aren’t even considered a part of this society, we are merely untouchables, so the solitary work we can do is begging.”
When I asked her, how women are treated in nomadic culture, she responded that
“We (the females) are the best source of income for our kin, even Some of our girls indulge in prostitution to make a good sum of money. Yet, as far as employment is concerned our men, mostly shirk their duties.”
Raising my tensions, I inquired about the health of their children, she confidently answered that,
“Our children have more immunity then yours because we survive in dust and dirt- nothing serious happens to them so they are okay with all circumstances.”
Contrary to what she had said, it is a fact that when these children are not given their fixed dose, they cry, shiver, and complain of body ache. Undoubtedly, I saw that she possessed no sensation of moral and ethical values; instead she had strong justifications to try out her miserable profession. Indeed, from the medical point of view, these street beggars like Rehana carry with them infection and roam from place to place spreading epidemics.
Realistically street begging is a grave crime and should be suppressed with iron fist. To end this menace, traffickers and gang lords running the beggars industry should be brought to justice as they are the real monsters of our society. Consequently those who support them should be punished accordingly.
By all accounts, begging should be banned by law. A legislator must be enacted to put an end to this profession. However, it is a fact that people involved in street begging are mostly uneducated and unskillful. In order to end this malicious culture, our government should take punitive measures by providing free education and building institutes of rehabilitation for deserving cases. It is true to say that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. A man’s dignity lies in his own hand, life without self-esteem and respect is worthless.