Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

A Sobering Reality

Unless one has traveled in third world countries, some of this is going to sound fantastic...and, possibly, unbelievable. However, I've witnessed it in Southeast Asia so I know it exists everywhere there are horribly poor people and tourists of some kind. This story happens to be about the "begging mafia" in Pakistan.
In every place where poverty is dire but welcoming to tourists, beggars are common. There is no social security, no welfare system, no AFDC, no government support of any kind. If one cannot find a way to get food, one will die. That's it. There is often very little access to birth control or education about birth control in these places so parents generally have more than a manageable number of children. Unemployment is a fact so begging is the result. However, it has taken on a very sinister front as organized crime has found a way to use children...often disabled turn a tidy profit. Sadly, though, they get these children by kidnapping them from their parents. For example, in 2010, in Karachi, Pakistan, alone 3,000 children were abducted for the purpose of forcing them into begging tourists for money: money which they do not get to keep.
This gambit is especially effective on Pakistani Muslims who worship at a variety of shrines throughout the country. It is considered good fortune to give money to a begging child, and the pilgrims do so without hesitation. The unfortunate children are often traded between gangs and moved throughout the country with shaven heads, tattoos, and sometimes, missing limbs or eyes: all of which is designed to make sure their parents cannot recognize them. especially the maiming part.
Disabled or deformed children get far more donations than the small, cute ones, and the gangs are not above making sure its charges are maimed somewhat.
While in Cambodia, we were approached by two young boys with outstretched hands, and, before actually thinking about it, we offered them some coins. We watched as they ran a short distance away and handed the money to an older boy who sent them on their way to get more money from tourists. The second time we were approached was at a restaurant, and the urchins looked half-starved; however, they would not take food from us and when they discovered they were getting no money, they simply walked away, looking for an easy mark somewhere else.
In Pakistan, the Roshni Helpline Charity is an entity trying to find these kids and return them to their parents.
It's mostly a lost cause.


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