In Kabul, Children are ‘Rented’ Out to Beggars
KABUL: Begging on the street has spawned a vicious practice: beggar mafia are renting children in Kabul, and drugging them with opium to ply their trade. Afghan cities also see Pakistani beggars in the summer, reveals an investigation by the Independent Media Consortium (IMC) Productions.*
The government outlawed street-begging in November 2008 and set up a commission – made up of different government bodies and the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) – to end street-begging in the capital but it has not helped. Instead the numbers seem to have grown in the last few years, and many of the beggars are women and children.
Freba who must be in her forties lives in GuzarQazzi in the 1st District, and has been begging for 12 years. She says she earns roughly 300 Afs daily (1 USD is 56 Afs). Her drug addict husband does not work. An opium addict she has turned her eight children, the eldest an 18-year-old daughter, into addicts. “I take one or two of the younger children with me every day. The rest stay home with my eldest daughter. Before we leave the house I feed them half a bean of opium. They sleep quietly on the street. When I want to wake them up, I pour water on their faces, and make them drink water. Sometimes they vomit!” she is matter-of-fact. When the children do not get their daily fix, they cry, and complain of body ache, the mother adds.
Freba is part of a 15-member gang of beggar women who drug their children with opium. The Afghanistan Human Rights Independent Commission (AHRIC) estimates there are 60,000 child addicts in the country. Opium is the most common drug. (PAN)