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NHRC advisory on begging suggests national database, decriminalisation & anti-human trafficking law

The NHRC said prevention and elimination of all forms of begging warrants the State to establish an anti-begging framework.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 11:57 IST

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New Delhi: Describing beggary as the "failure of the society", the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued an advisory asking union and state governments to establishing an anti-begging network, decriminalise begging and building a national database to ensure that benefits of various schemes reach them.

The 'Advisory for the Protection and Rehabilitation of Impoverished, Uneducated Children, Women, and Differently-abled Individuals Engaged in Begging' issued on Friday as the issue of begging persists despite several efforts by the government.

It wanted the government to ensure that people who sustain themselves by begging "receive adequate shelter, sufficient nutritious food and appropriate clothing" to enable them to "live with dignity" until begging is eliminated from society.

The NHRC said prevention and elimination of all forms of begging warrants the State to establish an anti-begging framework.

It said the government could begin by drafting a National Policy for the protection and rehabilitation of individuals involved in beggary, followed by preparing and implementing welfare schemes for them with targeted financial assistance, vocational training, poverty alleviation and employment opportunities.

There should be continuous monitoring and supervision by executive actions for implementation of those frameworks. The State to "work towards decriminalising" begging, it said.

It also wanted the government to undertake a sociological and economic impact assessment and legislate an anti-human trafficking law to curb any racket of forced begging. 

"This law should identify begging as one of the root causes of human trafficking and insert penal offences against the perpetrators, including cartels and pimps, to ensure complete prohibition of trafficking in human beings," it said.

The NHRC also advocated the need for a nationwide survey by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for collecting detailed information to build a national database of individuals engaged in begging with their physical, mental, and social status, which should be updated regularly on an online portal/ dashboard accessible to all the stakeholders.

Identified beggars should be brought to shelter homes and are registered as residents. In shelter homes, the NHRC said, they should be offered essential services, including proper boarding and lodging facilities, clothes, healthcare, Aadhar cards, ration cards and assistance with opening bank accounts. 

Shelter homes should also provide mental health counselling, de-addiction and rehabilitation services to support the process of the rehabilitation of the people involved in begging. 

The authorities also should look at identifying avenues such as religious congregations to organise awareness camps for discouraging begging and disseminate information on the various government welfare schemes and employment opportunities including those for self-employment.

Children in the age group of 6-14 years engaged in begging should be enrolled in government or private schools under the Right to Education Act, 2009 to ensure free and compulsory education to all children.

Skilling programmes also should be organised and the government should explore the possibility of employment opportunities for the individuals engaged in begging, once they have been trained or imparted skills by the government-recognized institutes.

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Published 06 July 2024, 11:57 IST

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