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The City of Beggars

There are 40,000 beggars in Dhaka alone, a city of 20 million people. Every day, hundreds of beggars can be seen on the roadside, at traffic signals and outside commercial buildings in Dhaka. Many of them are physically disabled. They are part of daily life in Dhaka. They are on every street, often with missing limbs, physical deformities, and naked babies hanging from their arm. Begging is banned some parts of the capital, but in a one-hour journey by a public vehicle in Dhaka, one would have to face at least 10 to 20 beggars at different traffic signals and bus stops. Children are being used in large numbers in this despicable profession. Mainly poverty and natural disasters are responsible for begging. In our society, organized criminal gangs deliberately maim children to employ them in begging. And this indeed is evil and has to be curbed. But beggars in our society are mostly created because of social injustice. During the super cyclones, Cidr and Aila, many people of the southern region of the country were rendered homeless and heartless. Displaced from their original habitats, in the urban areas, they live rootless lives with some joining the population of the beggars. A survey conducted by some NGOs in 2009 found that 67% of the beggars are involved in begging due to poverty, 20% for disability and 10% have taken it as a profession. During Ramadan, the number of beggars surges in Dhaka because they come to where the money is and because part of the Ramadan tradition is for people to give charity. Begging, a long standing problem deserves attention of the government, the civil society and NGOs. Pragmatic steps should be taken collectively to get rid of it, as begging doesn’t bring anything to society except disgrace.

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