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Calls for crackdown on child beggars in Mandalay

Children photographed begging at a main junction in central Mandalay. (PHOTO: DVB)

The unscrupulous elements who control the street children begging on the streets of Mandalay should be unmasked and charged, say city officials.

Speaking on the issue following numerous complaints from members of the public, Soe Tint Aung, the sub-division officer of Mandalay City Municipal Committee, said, “The main problem is the people and organisations controlling the children. If we can work together with the police and neighbourhood administrators, we can finally protect these children.”

He acknowledged that there has been a marked increase in the number of children begging at junctions and traffic lights around central Mandalay, and said it was down to “economic problems”.

Kyaw Win of the city’s Social Welfare Department said, “We are seeing increased cases of under-age crime, rape, prostitution, drugs, under-aged pregnancies and infectious diseases.”

He added: “These kids in turn may well evolve into criminals.”

But while the city administrators complain about the young beggars, several Mandalay residents point out that it is the responsibility of those officials to do something about the problem.

Many have noted that the street urchins have taken to running at cars and motorbikes when they stop at junctions and traffic lights in order to hassle the drivers for money.

“Municipal officers and the traffic police are responsible for tackling this,” said one driver. “We, the drivers, try to avoid the children as much as we can.”

The local Social Welfare Department said it is preparing to launch mobile teams tasked with prevention and education mandates starting in October.