“Stop giving to child beggars.”
This has often been the plea made to citizens of various African countries, as authorities intensify efforts to rid the streets of child beggars who have invaded their countries in their numbers.
A majority of these child beggars, with the endorsement of their parents, can be found on some of the major roads of various African cities like Lagos, Dakar, Accra, and Nairobi, begging for alms to feed themselves and the family, usually in the full glare of the police.
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Coming in different ages, complexion and sexes, including foreigners, these children are often malnourished, poorly dressed and coated in dirt. In Ghana’s capital, Accra, most of these children have learned all sorts of tricks to get money from members of the public, including pretending to be sad and sick or grabbing their targets by their clothes in a bid to convince or force them to give them some money.
In various African countries affected by this menace, respective governments have been hoping to sweep the tens of thousands of children off their streets through announced policies and initiatives, but these have not yet materialized.
There are concerns that the more time countries spend in finding an amicable solution to this issue, the more children will be separated from their families while exposing themselves to extreme living conditions and dangers such as ill-health, rape and motor accidents.
As contained in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and section 87 (1-2) of the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560), child begging is child abuse and also prohibited by law, apart from being exploitative.
In recent times, however, the following African countries have taken tougher stances on the issue of child begging, banning the practice altogether in their major capital cities. Though it is yet to produce the desired results in some areas, observers say it is a step in the right action.