REPORT ON CHILD BEGGING SYSTEM IN INDIA
The children of today are assets of tomorrow. However, education, which is a fundamental right for every child in our nation, remains a distant dream for many Indian children, especially those who are poor, oppressed, and in desperate need. Poverty and a lack of education are two big factors that contribute to desperate acts such as child begging, which is one of our country’s most devastating and critical issues. Thousands of children have been ruined by this act of child begging, who have lost their lovely and innocent childhoods by becoming slaves.
According to a report prepared by the National Human Rights Commission of India, 40,000 children are abducted each year, which roughly means one child goes missing very eight minute in India, over 25% of whom remain untraced. According to a conservative estimate, more than 3 lakh children across India are forced to beg, using everything from addiction to drugs, to threats of violence and actual beatings. They are the cradle of a multi-million rupee industry that is run by cartels and mafias; and the sad part is that it is not properly addressed by the authorities.
- Major causes of child begging in India
- Abuse: Many children run away from their house because of the abuse they experience. some children are beaten and sexually abused. Their homeless children can get further abused through exploitative child labour and prostitution. As per i-India, many of the abused children they encounter are traumatized and do not speak for months. They even take years to recover in the NGO whereas it may never heal on the streets.
- Child Labor: In India, children work to earn money so that they can support their family. As young as 6 years old works on the streets or on the railway platforms. Even on railways children work on the platform. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 states employing children (below 14 years) has been prohibited in all occupations and processes, with certain limited exceptions.
- Gender Discrimination: In Indian Society, females are often get discriminated because of the liability of dowry. Parents often want a male child. Many girl children are aborted, abandoned or neglected by their parents which lead them on streets. The literacy rate in India for the woman is only 38% because people in India think that girls place is at home and should not work. India is the most unequal for men and women. Because of gender discrimination, the girl child is forced to go into prostitution, or are forced to beg.
- Homelessness: In India, children are homeless because of many reasons like poverty, or because many families in India are homeless. A Homeless child is a continuous threat of many risks. A single child is kidnapped by people who run this racket and these children are either forced to beg or are beaten by them.
- Poverty: Poverty is the main cause of child beggars. Because of poverty they can’t go to a school or eat proper food. Because of poverty children tend to beg for their families or work as a child labor to earn some money. How can a child study when he doesn’t even have money to have food? According to a report, 224 million Indians live below poverty line.
- How we can help street children?
Here are some ways you can help be a sincere and powerful support mechanism to rescue children forced into begging:
- Report to authorities
Street children, who look distressed, injured or show any signs of abuse must be reported to the local Child Welfare Committee or police. Initiate a friendly conversation with them to inquire about how their caretakers treat them. Begging is a crime in India *Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959), and thus child beggars can be reported.
- Volunteer at a Centre for street children
Leading child rights NGO Save the Children runs centers to provide street children education and counseling. A ‘Ride to School’ programme uses a Mobile Learning Centre (MLC) to bring a classic school environment directly to children and is just one example of where you can volunteer.
- Support an NGO
If you can regularly give beggars small handouts of cash, you can definitely afford a small amount to donate for charity.
- Create awareness in social media
- Educate some of them during weekends
- Law and Policy on Child Beggars
India has a wide framework of laws and constitutional provisions to prevent child trafficking. Article 23 of the Constitution guarantees right against exploitation, prohibits human trafficking and forced labor and makes their practice punishable.
There is no national-level law criminalizing begging, but begging is a crime across various states and union territories of India.
If a person who has previously been detained in a certified institution is found begging, he/she may be sentenced to detention for up to three years (section 5(5) BPBA). If convicted for a second time, he/she will be sentenced to detention for a period of ten years (section 6 BPBA).
The BPBA defines a child as a boy who is under 16 years old and a girl who is under 18 years old. Per section 5(9) BPBA, when the beggar is a child who is under the age of five years, the court shall send the child to a “children’s court” to be dealt with in accordance with the Children Act, 1960.
Section 11 BPBA states that if any person having the custody, charge or care of a child allows or encourages the child to solicit or receive alms or uses another person as an exhibit, he/she shall be punished for a period of imprisonment of between one and three years.
A number of additional laws contain provisions for dealing with child beggars. In 1959 the Indian Penal Code was amended to criminalize the exploitation of children for begging. Specifically, Section 363A prohibits kidnapping or maiming a minor for the purposes of begging; and if any person who is not the lawful guardian of a minor employs or uses a minor for the purposes of begging, he/she will have committed an offence.
Section 76 of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 creates the offence of employment of a juvenile or child for begging. The offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to five years or a fine of 100,000 rupees.
Additionally, the “Persons in Destitution Model Bill of 2016” was introduced in October 2016. The bill would have shifted the aim of India’s begging legislation from punishment to rehabilitation, though it would not have prevented arrests. In late 2017 a government representative indicated in the High Court that the bill had been dropped.
- Additional Laws on Begging
- Section 144 of the Indian Railway Act, 1989, prohibits hawking and begging. For instance, the Indian Railway Act prohibits any person from selling any article whatsoever in a railway carriage or on any part of a railway without a government license to do so (s144(1)). Begging and hawking as criminalized under the Railway Act attract a punishment of up to one year’s imprisonment and/or a fine.
- Further, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 268 (Public nuisance), states that a person is guilty of a public nuisance if he/she causes injury, danger or annoyance to the public. This law may be applied where persons found begging are perceived to be a public nuisance.
- The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 (BPBA) is available at
- For instance, there is a similar Act in Karnataka: The Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act, 1975,
- The Prevention of Begging Act, 1977, implemented by the Prevention of Begging Rules, 2010, criminalizes begging in Andhra Pradesh.
- The Children Act, 1960 is available at
- The Indian Railway Act, 1989 is available at
- The Indian Penal Code is available
- Some Case Studies
- Khushi, Sonu and Kamla: Three Girls Khushi, Sonu and Kamla are three cousins who were begging in the main market. They are eight, nine and ten years old respectively and beg every day in the same market. They collectively earn around hundred rupees every day. The money Anupma Kaushik 13 that they earn is given to the mothers who buy kumkum and then sell it. So their parents are aware that the girls are begging and earning valuable money for the family. Their poverty was very evident. They were wearing very dirty clothes and had no footwear. They say they go to school where they get mid day meal and uniform but cannot read simple Hindi words. Two girls do not have father but have only mother who lives and works with the girls Mama Mami i.e. maternal uncle and aunt, who are parents of the third girl. Together the girls have two brothers elder to them who also sell kumkum and a younger brother. They lived in mud house without bathroom and toilet. They desired to eat an ice-cream. So poverty being the primary reason.
- Salman: The School Drop Out Salman is ten years old and comes to market with his friends everyday to beg from the village where he lives with his parents. His mother stays at home while father is a kabadi by profession. He was wearing torn clothes and says his mother and father are aware that he begs. He earns around thirty rupees every day. He has a sister. He used to go to school but had a fight with another kid so left school. He comes to city to beg as here nobody knows him and also nobody gives money in the village. Poverty along with lack of guidance i.e. education being the trigger cause.
- Recent Case Law On May 3,2021 , the High Court of Delhi issued notice to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Delhi Government, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), & others on a petition seeking direction to enact appropriate law & policies to stop child begging & selling of products on traffic signals & junctions. The Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh sought response from all the respondents on public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Piyush Chhabra, a social activist & practicing lawyer in Delhi Courts, & slated the matter.The petitioner Piyush Chhabra also sought the issuance of directions to the respondents to protect the rights of the children upon the streets of Delhi and to make proper arrangements for the children at Child Care Institutes. The petition also seeks directions to make appropriate policies/laws to curb the terrible situations of the children in street.
Thus child beggary is still a burning problem in India and we must combat the evil which is spreading its wings day by day. Pandit Nehru had once said that children are the future of the nation and the future is at stake. We need to eradicate the social evil of child beggary and put up those laws and regulation that would prove to be fruitful for the future of our children and for our nation.
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