Street begging remains banned, Malawi government to flush out street beggars- official

Street begging remains banned under the laws of Malawi,  a senior government official has said, announcing plans of sweeping all street children and perpetual beggars off the streets.

Principal Secretary (PS) for Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Dr. Mary Shawa told reporters  in Lilongwe that  her ministry had obtained a court order to carry out the exercise and that all perpetrators or irresponsible duty bearers of street begging would be arrested and charged according to the law.

Shawa said after a thorough research the ministry established that the streets expose children to numerous forms of abuse and trafficking hence criminalization of the tendency.

“Allowing children to be in the streets for purposes of either begging or escorting habitual beggars, is prohibited in Malawi,” said Shawa.

Dr Mary Shawa: To clear out street beggars

Adding: “Child Care Protection and Justice Act 2010, provides that Subjecting a child to a social or customary practice that is harmful to the health or general development of the child is an offence.”

The PS warned that they would prosecute all parents and guardians who send their children on the streets to beg, saying police will do their work.

She added that the ministry’s survey had revealed that children go on the streets for various reasons some of which are criminal in nature.

“Most children found on the streets are employed to escort habitual beggars; others are sent by their parents to receive alms for a living at household level.

“Some are sent to sell food items while others are recruited to indulge in illegal activities such as theft, gambling and prostitution,” explained the PS.

Shawa said besides the Child Care Protection and Justice Act, the Penal Code also prohibits the recruitment of children to escort adults or fellow children to beg or use the children as the begging bait on the streets.

“That’s why the Ministry, in collaboration with Malawi Police Service and other partners would like to apply section 23 of the Child Care Protection and Justice Act with immediate effect to intensify ‘home for every child campaign’ which started in July 2012,” she said.

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