The Gambia’s previous gains in eradicating child begging are in serious threat of a roll back.
Subjecting children to street begging, at times in harsh conditions, is more or less like exposing them to the many dangers of the street. Apart from making them vulnerable to further abuse, child mendicancy is inimical to the general wellbeing of the child.
It wasn’t ages ago that The Gambia criminalized the practice of Qur’anic teachers sending their students down the street to beg. With a strong law and robust enforcement regime, the previous government has succeeded, to a certain length, in stemming the vicious trend of child begging.
But it would appear this momentum is sadly waning as the spectre of child begging is rearing its ugly head in some of our major towns.
In Farafenni, they are a common sight. In Basse, they are becoming an eyesore and in Soma, their presence is strongly felt.
The sight of barefooted children in threadbare clothing, feverishly soliciting pittance from strangers is perturbing.
Not only that but it is an embarrassing exposure of how children are being forsaken by those supposed to protect them. If children should undergo the throes of the sufferings of the street through the action or inaction of those supposed to protect them, then there is a collective shame to share. As one celebrated African writer puts it in one of his literally gems-a she-goat must not suffer the pains of parturition on the rope whilst there is an elder in the house.
Children need protection! And posterity will judge us all as to how we see them through their life journeys.