One of the most shocking scenes in the Oscar-winning popular film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ involves a group of men intentionally maiming a boy so that he would gain more sympathy as a street beggar. The film is completely fictional, but like in many parts of the world, the beggar mafia is an active criminal activity exploiting children in some parts of India as well.
This article from the Daily Mail shines a spotlight on what it calls the “beggar mafia” and just how terrible the situation is for young children in their “care”. It opens with specific stories about children who have been deliberately maimed for financial gain by criminals.
“Dalbeer, 15, is another victim of this shocking industry. Reduced to begging at the railway station after his parents died, Dalbeer was approached by two friendly older strangers one day. ‘I thought they were maybe social workers,’ he told me. ‘I thought they could help me.’
But he was taken from everything he knew to Nagpur, a city a thousand miles from Mumbai, after the woman told him it would ‘be better there’.”
Studies from other parts of the globe show that children who are at risk because of their families’ extreme poverty often have trouble getting adequate nutrition, care, and education. Estimates say that a majority of children who end up in Child Care Institutions (CCIs) come from families who are facing the daunting task of surviving acute or chronic poverty.
Child poverty and exploitation is just one of the many problems that re-integrating children in need of care and protection with families hopes to prevent. Practitioners such as Miracle Foundation and our partners have been working tirelessly in close collaboration with the Government of India to further the Government’s own efforts, continuously improve the quality of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) and ensure children can, after adequate family-based counseling and critical poverty alleviation support, go back to their families.
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