By ANUSHIL KUMAR
The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will now ensure there is no practice of child begging.
The National Taskforce on Beggars will closely monitor streets across the country to make certain that no child is found begging.
The taskforce which is headed by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, is made up of different interventions that identify ways to assist beggars by providing them with opportunities to generate income.
An alarming area of concern for the taskforce is presence of children found begging with adults where in some cases, they are accompanying their parents.
The Minister for Social Welfare Rosy Sofia Akbar said any child found begging will be taken into State care as children begging on the streets are often vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
“We have intensified efforts to ensure that any child found begging will be taken into our care. Previously the police were just warning the parents, now we have started to take action and it’s sad to see that some people use children to gain public sympathy,” Ms Akbar said.
“The police will continue to monitor the situation in Suva and other towns as well. If any family is burdened with financial difficulty they are advised to visit the nearest social welfare office for assistance, but we will not compromise the safety of any child found begging.”
Underlining a recent case where a woman was found begging with her young infant, the Minister said the Government has a duty to protect young children from mistreatment.
She stated the young child was taken into State Care while the Taskforce will ensure the mother is assisted with having employed opportunities.
Minister Akbar met with Nadi Special Administrator, Mr Robin Ali to look at how the Ministry and Nadi Town Council can work together to assist beggars in Nadi town.
The taskforce will also work hand-in-hand with municipal councils across the country to look at ways of assisting the beggars. The Ministry is stepping up its work through the Taskforce and we will ensure that no parent or guardian uses their child for begging.”