After getting sick of extreme poverty, Um Iman continued on wearing her black veil holding a baby less than a year old in her arms roaming the streets asking for money. She migrated due to the on-going war, in which hundreds were killed and millions have lost their homes and livelihoods.
Um Iman, a woman in her early forties, started street begging because of her helplessness. She talked about “swindler” beggars who hire kids to win over the sympathy of passers-by, Um Iman couldn’t provide her four children with food and water. “My husband disappeared a year ago, and no one has news about him… extreme poverty pushed me to beg,” she said.
Disabled Children, a Gem
Um Iman only needed a Falafel sandwich and a coke to reveal what she knew. She has been without food since the early morning, moving slowly between vehicles and repeating, “Help me for God’s sake.” “it only coast around 5,000 dinars per day (around $4) to hire a baby for begging. fee raises up to 10,000 dinars per day (around $8) if the child has a physical disability – not forgetting that disabled children gain the sympathy of people. They are like lucky charms when it comes to earning money in the streets,” Um Iman said.
Um Iman, who refuses to disclose her real name for social reasons, emphasized that: “Extreme poverty drove me to plead for money in the streets for more than a year, since I’m a migrant from the country northern cities.” Moreover, she explained that her husband disappeared in complicated security conditions after which her sufferings in the world of street begging began, in order to take care of her four children.
“The baby I am carrying is my own and not a hired one”, Um Iman added. Nevertheless, she acknowledged the fact that other beggars hold hired babies and refused to elaborate more claimed that it was none of her business.
45-year-old man, owner of a mini market of which beggars always pass by stated that these children are hired to complete the pathetic picture he described it saying life makes you see wonders
“Most beggars carry children who are unrelated to them by simply paying a certain leasing fee to the parents,” Abou Rabih assured.
Women and Children are Victims of street begging
“Baquba as well as other cities in Diyala are suffering from street beggars coming from other provinces” said Karim Al-Juburi, a member of the Diyala Provincial Council. “90% of beggars, including women, are not from Diyala”
“Street begging has become a profession for a lot to the extent that some of them are adopting different methods to gain the sympathy of people, and perhaps in the forefront, exploiting children who are now like a commodity, in the hands of some, trading their sufferings for low earnings,” he added.
On this subject, Abid Sami, a civil activist, said “Investigations prove that some women street beggars rely on children of poor families in exchange for a certain payable fee”, he describes them as “angels for rent”.
Sami stresses on the fact that: “hiring Children requires a serious stand from the concerned parties because these kids are exposed to dangers and violations and can as well be exploited in various fields”
“Certain beggars have been used by some extremist organizations for the past few years. The number of beggars in Baquba streets and the rest of Diyala cities are increasing rapidly due to what is known as an inward street begging from other provinces” Diyala police Spokesman, Colonel Ghaleb Al-Attiyah, said.
“A series of measures prohibit beggars from hanging around security and governmental units and headquarters in order to avoid any breaches. It is fundamental for the concerned governmental bodies to adopt ways to address the street begging issue in Diyala streets by including beggars in a social welfare program,” he pointed out.
“The presence of women and children on the streets will expose them to huge risks, and they might be recruited by extremists who are threatening public security”, he added.
The municipality directorate of Baquba in Diyala province has launched, in an earlier time, an initiative aiming to end the street begging phenomenon in the streets and at intersections, inviting the municipality of Diyala to adopt a road map stopping beggars from being in the province.
It is noted that in Baquba (55 km north-eastern Baghdad) and its surroundings, there are dozens of beggars, most carrying babies under 5 years old, in a scene that raises the passers’ empathy pushing them to give the women beggars some money.