Beggars pester locals for food, money

KARACHI:

As economic distress and political upheaval catapult the spike in social ills like beggary, citizens sandwiched between tight finances and nagging beggars feel trapped, as they struggle to help the needy whilst fulfilling their own expenditures.

Despite the provincial government announcing efforts to put an end to beggary in the port city, soaring inflation and peaking unemployment has allowed the number of beggars loitering in public places to grow exponentially in the past year, with many of the destitute now pestering residents by knocking door to door in the hopes of securing rations, clothes, and money.

“Earlier, one odd beggar would visit our street calling out for help, but now multiple families knock on our door throughout the day asking for money,” shared Farzana, a resident of Sharifabad, who felt that Karachi’s locals possessed a humanitarian spirit however, sky-rocketing inflation had made it difficult to lend a helping hand to all those seeking monetary assistance.

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Agreeing with Farzana, Imran, a resident of Malir felt that burgeoning beggars across the city had complicated the outdoor activities of citizens, who were being bothered by panhandlers in the markets, on the roads, and at other public places. “Instead of asking simply for money they make big demands of ration and are unwilling to leave until you oblige to their requests,” complained Imran.

Shama, a widow seeking help in the Lines area, responded to the complaints of citizens by alluding to the desperate state of her household’s finances. “Ever since my husband passed away, my major source of income has ended, and survival is very difficult for me in such times. Therefore, I beg out of necessity,” she claimed.

According to Jamal Sethi, a social leader, the failing state of the economy and the recent wave of inflation has pushed a large number of households way below the poverty line therefore the rise in the number of beggars in the city is unprecedented. “Since finding a job is very difficult, begging is an easier, albeit momentary escape from poverty,” expressed Sethi.

Seconding Sethi, Hassaan Sabir, a legal expert, feels that welfare efforts to alleviate poverty must target the root of beggary by providing employment opportunities to the beggars instead of simply handing out cash transfers. “In this way, the tendency of people to seek help will be managed and only those who are desperately in need would be helped by citizens,” opined Sabir.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on the matter, a spokesman for the Sindh Home Department said, “the caretaker government is trying its best to take effective steps to put an end to beggary in the city. We will also initiate a welfare project for providing employment opportunities to the beggars.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st2023.


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