Begging on the rise

ABU DHABI - Even as the police is cracking down on the increasing number of beggars in the capital, the social malady continues to spread, though in new forms.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Sun 25 Apr 2004, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:00 AM

Barging into the residential complexes, offices and super markets, these 'informal beggars' ask for financial help, citing reasons as varied as unpaid salaries, an ailing relative or inability to buy a ticket to go home.

In the wake of an increasing number of labour problems, meagre wages, and high living expenses, it has become a common practice among those in the lowest social strata to resort to financial help from others to eke out a living in the country.

And in many cases, the good samaritans find it difficult to shove them away, much to the delight of the beggars.

Though there are some genuine cases that deserve financial help, many of this 'help seekers' are phoney.

"You can't call them beggars because they are well-dressed, young and healthy. They simply resort to begging to line their purse. I never entertain these people at my shop," said Mahamood, who is working for Dahi Ibrahim Al Mazroui vegetable shop in Abu Dhabi.

According to Ajith Babu, an executive officer in a medical equipment company, this practice should not be encouraged as it is a great nuisance to the residents.

"It is commonly found that these people approach you outdoors late in the evening or at home before lunch time when the housewives are alone. Giving a small amount is not a big deal, but you can't rule out chances for some unexpected consequences," remarked Mr Ajith.

Mumtaz Javed, working for the logistics department in an MNC, said that a few years back, her daughter had encountered a very unpleasant incident when she entertained an old lady who came asking for help.

"She was alone at home and the lady forced herself in and grabbed the box of coins my daughter was holding. Once, even a teenager had approached me asking for money to pay his fees as his father was sick. I gave him something, but later regretted my action. You never know whether they are lying or not," said Mumtaz.

It seems these help-seekers choose buildings and offices, which are not strictly guarded as they offer them easy access.

"Sometimes, they just slip in through the back door and you can't stop them. Yet another problem is how to differentiate between visitors and beggars. Some are young lads and others women in abaya," said Mansour, a watchman at a high-rise building in Abu Dhabi.

Most people agree that the authorities can do little to prevent this practice as they are very elusive. They seldom appear in public places and no law is binding on them because they are not the usual beggars who beg in public.

"It is upon the residents to do away with this nuisance and they have to fall back upon their individual judgment in each cases," commented Richard, who is running a dry cleaning centre.

However, the police have urged the public to cooperate with the authorities to curb begging as part of a major anti-crime drive organised under the slogan 'Together towards a Safer Community.' Anyone arrested on charges of begging will be deported from the country and will not be allowed to return again.

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