KARACHI – During Ramazan, almost all the markets, shopping centres and public places of the metropolis have witnessed a large number of beggars, raising questions over the apathetic behavior of the authorities concerned towards the issue.
The government’s negligence over this burning issue is really a point of apprehension for every citizen. Hundreds of beggars have rushed to the city from other parts of the country to make money from illegal profession of beggary.
Due to negligence on the part of the government, these street children are being exploited by different mafias, who use them for begging, drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
These beggars and street children are also involved in criminal activities and street crimes.
As per Unicef, there are an estimated 10,000 street children in Karachi. Some work in the streets and go back to their families at the end of the day whilst homeless boys live in gangs of ten or more kids and sleep in filthy sewage pipes, open parks or bus stands.
However, children are being used by the beggary mafia for earning money. It is said that the number of beggars are being increased every year, while roughly a beggar earn more than Rs40,000 to Rs45,000.
Most of the street children are living in all of the 60 katchi abadies1, including Machchar Colony, Butta Colony, Bangali Para, Teen Hatty, Ibrahim Hydri, Hundred Quarters of Orangi Town, Bilal Colony and other areas.
The children, who are the real asset of the nation, are being misused in the hands of various mafias, despite the fact that for the protection of children from abuse, exploitation, violence and discrimination.
Unicef works with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Provincial Social Welfare Departments, International and national NGOs and other UN agencies. They are also working to support the establishment of a system of juvenile justice.
According to Unicef, just over half of the 19 million children of primary school-going age are enrolled in primary education.
Compared to 58 per cent of boys, there are 48 per cent of girls enrolled in primary school. Just over a third of Pakistani women are literate.
An estimated 3.6 million children under the age of 14 work, mostly in exploitative and hazardous labour.
The economists of the country are of the view that the beggary is linked with the poor economic conditions of the country.
Asghar Ali, an economist of the Karachi University, said that it could be improved with the prosperity of the country. He said that the curse of beggary was being increased day-by-day in the country and the metropolis as well. These beggars are more professionals, and guided by a powerful mafia.
It is pertinent to mention here that according to the Human Development Index (HDI), 60.3 per cent of Pakistan’s population lives on under $2 a day, compared to 75.6 per cent in nearby India and 81.3 per cent in nearby Bangladesh, and some 22.6 per cent live under $1 a day, compared to 41.6 per cent in India and 49.6 per cent in Bangladesh.
Wealth distribution in Pakistan is highly uneven, with 10 per cent of the population earning 27.6 per cent of income.
As per a study, conducted by Prof Dr Nasreen Aslam Shah, Director Centre of Excellence for Women’s Studies, Karachi University, young girls belonging to beggary community, working in the city, are also involved in the curse of prostitution.
It is pertinent to mention here that various NGOs and welfare organisation are active in the city against the curse of beggary but the beggary is still fast expanding, while the government is unconcerned towards the issue.