By Larbi Arbaoui
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, May 22, 2012
The drought that has befallen the country the past several years successively has further impoverished an already poor social strata. The people from rural regions who live mainly on agriculture are the hardest hit by the implications of this aridity. Having no resources, some of them left their little villages and settled in slums, bus stations and in public squares. They prefer begging than starving to death.
People with special needs are not guaranteed social protection in our country. Both family and society consider them a heavy burden they have to support reluctantly. They do not receive adequate training which can enable them to be integrated in the society and incorporate in the workforce positively. Thus they are forced to beg. But they are not the only ones begging: some seem to do it because it pays better than the jobs available to them.
“The best job I ever had was panhandling” is a line from a comedian that contains a seed of truth. Wherever you go, you’re harassed by beggars of all ages and sexes. Boys and girls, young and old advance towards you with outstretched hands. It evokes lachrymose feelings and sympathetic emotions to see such skinny children, sometimes accompanied by their mothers, all in rags, importuning every passerby for alms. They haunt the cafes, mosques, buses and busy streets. Begging has become an annoying social phenomenon. What explains the increasing numbers of beggars in our country is still an enigmatic puzzle.
Being a beggar in Morocco is one of the simplest things. Outstretching a hand miserably in any public space is just enough to start receiving coins from people. But to be a successful mendicant, a professional beggar – a beggar entrepreneur- one must accrue experience and develop some tricks including cunning, market savvy and learning by heart certain Qur’anic verses that help awaken the religious compassionate feelings among people. Professed beggars have memorised special prayers and know to use them for their favour in particular moments, places and for different kinds of people. In some regions begging is well-organised. For each area, there is an owner to whom other beggars must pay the right of occupancy. Foreign beggars are strictly denied access to such “private” places. Any attempts to violate this invisible code may lead to serious complications.
The act of touching people for money is, probably for all nations, a despised deed putting down people engaged in such a debased occupation. Some people exercise mendacity as a habit that they can’t stop because they have been grown up with it. Be it an easy task –they believe- they can’t think of an alternative way that will afford them a decent living away from the humiliating act of outstretching hands before people. Another category found is those begging for a meal ticket yet have a prosperous life. They have no charges because everything is begged: food, clothes, transport and money. However, there are people who are obliged to pray for their living. Being even reluctant to beg, at the absence of the familial bond and social care this category of beggars can’t be choosers.
Recorded figures can only indicate the uncertainty of this increasingly threatening social anomaly. The lack of an integrated strategy against begging through a comprehensive approach based on prevention and social reintegration of persons engaged in begging explains the increase of this social problem. It is up to the government to seriously approach the issue. But, If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
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