Begging is becoming an alarming issue within Kurdistan, a problem that seems to be disregarded. Some beg out of necessity, others out of habit. The problem is that many of the beggars tend to be children, out in the cold, opening their palms for petty cash late in the evening. Sometimes they approach you and become overly repetitive in their pleas for cash, unfortunately they are not easily dismissed. There are some beggars who can become aggressive. Recently, two young girls approached me as I walked out of a shop in Ainkawa, one of them held my hand and refused to let go unless I gave her cash while the other stood in my way.
Our city needs NGOs that work on ground to quantify the extent of this problem
Children begging on streets is not just a question of poverty but poor parenting, and lack of governmental rules specifically targeting parents that allow their children to beg. Our city also needs non-governmental organisations that work on-ground to quantify the extent of this problem, and to find ways that can effectively put an end to begging, as well as governmental legislation that tackles this problem from its root.
They miss out on having a meaningful childhood
There are refugee children in the city of Erbil begging and this further complicates the problem, and its causes. Refugee children begging are different from locals resorting to this practice. Refugees resort to this practice because they are unable to find financial assistance or housing while locals might have other reasons. It is necessary to have a system in place that can differentiate between the causes of this practice, and that system must be able to hold parents or guardians accountable for not preserving the rights of their children who miss out on having a meaningful childhood.
We need people to take responsibility too
The solution is not simple, and it is unlikely that there is a single solution. It will take time to come up with a cohesive system where the rights of children are enshrined and preserved. However, in order for Kurdistan to progress, issues such as child beggars must not be disregarded because they will only become worse this way. In order to solve this problem, we need people to take responsibility too. Whenever you give money to child beggars, you are complicit in further perpetuating this practice. To put a stop to this practice, people have to think of the bigger picture when they see child beggars and must start believing that giving money does not resolve this issue, but only further perpetuates it.
Real charity is finding the solution to this problem
It is not charitable to give money to children who beg on the streets. Real charity is finding the solution to this problem. It is ensuring that we invest in the future of these children, and give them the best start in their life. Whenever you give money, you make their lives worse because you are the reason they continue to beg. If people stop giving, there will be less begging. This is just one of the ways to tackle begging, and it does not need legislation but simply citizen participation.