Begging is not rooted in Roma traditions, but in poverty

Begging is not rooted in Roma traditions, but in poverty

2013. 05. 14.

In connection with a new legal proposition, the Belgian Senate held a hearing today on human trafficking and begging with children. On the invitation of Philippe Moureaux, Chairman of the Belgian Senate's Internal Affairs Committee, MEP Lívia Járóka, Rapporteur of the EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion participated on the event. In her speech she expressed her gratitude towards the Belgian EU presidency for the preparation of the a EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and expressed her view that the proposal in question could contribute not only to the full transposition of the directive, but also to the better early identification and protection of victims. Járóka reminded that the directive extended the definition of trafficking so that it also covered exploitation for forced labour, including begging.

The MEP welcomed the 'impunity clause' of the directive, according to which victims are not punishable for the illegal acts they committed under the influence of their traffickers. She further welcomed the proposed provision of the bill banning the use of children for begging, even if the perpetrators are family members. Járóka underlined that trafficking emerged in close connection with marginalization and extreme poverty; and so affected Roma women and children disproportionately. Therefore – she pointed out – begging is not a tradition, but a terrible situation that those involved are trying to escape from and the obligation of authorities is to help the victims and not to turn their back on this practice out of some misguided pity or false sense of human rights.