CUTTACK: Use of children and babies in begging, which has become a common sight at traffic junctions in the Millennium City, has come under the scanner of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
Even as it has launched an extensive campaign to rescue and rehabilitate destitute children living on platforms of railways station, the district authority has now moved to tackle the growing menace of child begging in the city. A survey would be launched soon to assess the situation, including enumeration of people and children engaged in begging.
While begging in itself is an unlawful activity, the situation warrants immediate intervention as there is an increasing tendency to use very young children and infants as emotional tools to persuade people to give alms. Children, barely six or seven-year-old with month-olds strapped on to them, tapping on windscreens, tugging at bike riders or even imploring passengers in buses and auto-rickshaws is a common sight at the intersections. Then there are women carrying malnourished newborns to strike an emotional chord with the passers-by and compel them to dole out money, CWC member Pradip Patnaik said. “This amounts to gross exploitation and torture of children, necessitating urgent action. The Committee has decided to take up the issue on priority. Based on the findings of the survey, appropriate steps will be taken to curb the practice,” Patnaik said.
The intervention of CWC will, however, be a tough task as majority of the women and children engaged in begging do not belong to the city. They move around with families as nomads from one city to another. A large racket is also stated to be behind the begging with even babies let out on hire for a share of collections.
“All aspects of the social problem will be examined. Even if the families are from outside, steps would be taken to counsel them to quit begging and place their children under appropriate care for their proper growth and development. The mothers would also be rehabilitated,” the member stated.