It always makes me sad to see something like this on the streets of Bangkok. I’m always in a dilema as to whether to give the beggars any money. I was once at a BTS station waiting for a friend and within a period of about 20 minutes I saw many people put money in a beggar’s cup. Quite often 20 Baht but sometimes coins. Every now and then the beggar would empty the cup and put the money in a purse. I estimated that he had collected about 200 Baht within just a short time. Many people who work hard all day don’t get much more than that.
There was another incident I spotted while I was walking to Pantip Plaza via Pratunam. Someone who looked like he was homeless was changing his shirt by the side of the road. A Chinese tourist who just got off a bus was trying to sneak a picture of this guy. He was spotted and the homeless guy got angry and chased him off. I didn’t think much of it at the time but an hour or so later I was walking back the same way and spotted the same homeless guy sitting by the side of the road begging. The only difference is that this time he had only one arm!
The problem with begging in Thailand is that it is often organized by gangs. Children are often kidnapped or trafficked over the border from Cambodia. They are then forced to beg and make a certain amount of money each day. They don’t get to keep this money as they have to give it to the gang leader. Some of the kids already have deformities but there has been some reports that these were done on purpose in order to attract more sympathy. It is all very well organized. They are dropped off in the morning in key locations and someone comes round later in the day to pick them up.
If you saw this child begging in Bangkok would you give her money?
I threw this question out on Twitter late last night. In my opinion you should never give money to child beggars as you are supporting human trafficking. If you insist then give food or a toy. Here are a few of the replies:
RT @cotimichele: No. It never seems they actually get the money. In my 2 yrs I’ve never given $ to st beggars. Would rather donate 2 charity.
RT @iks77: Very hard if not impossible to distinguish between real poor people and the begging mafia
RT @Bangkoking: No, because I assume she’s put there by a gang.
RT @velvetjack: Mostly agree, i try to carry some soil milk in my car for that case, also know a friend who even carry small dolls.
RT @MetaHeavies: @Friends_Intl’s #Childsafe campaign gives clear rationales for why it can cause more harm than good
RT @MindfulAarti: Agree…giving begging children money keeps them on the street and at risk of even more abuse and exploitation.
RT @Vexape: I always give food & drink, not cash. BBQ Pork and water. And sit with them whilst they eat it.
RT @pagrev: No, I think it only encourages more begging.
RT @smiley_yas: As a tourist in Phuket I’ve often wondered whether to give to beggars. Also, buying leis from children?! Feel bad either way.
RT @tarabkk: Agreed. I keep snacks & candy in my car. Once gave Tootsie Rolls at Asoke and kids were all smiles.
RT @leoviotti: I don’t ever give money to no one. Food and stuff (clothes, shoes, etc), yes. Lesson learned in Brazil… :-\