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24.01.2006 General News

MP calls for end to child beggars

By GNA

Accra, Jan 24, GNA - A member of parliament on Tuesday called on ministries and departments responsible for child development to immediately reverse the unfortunate trend of beggars using children of school-going age as aides to solicit for alms. Reverend Benjamin Bimpong Donkor, the member for Hemang Lower Denkyira, made the call in statement on the floor of the House on the future of the beggar's aide.

"Giving the axiom that the youth are the future leaders of this country, it is imperative that something immediately is done about this unfortunate situation."

He said begging had become more or less a profession for a section of Ghanaians, with physically challenged beggars at vantage points throughout the city.

Rev Donkor said perhaps Parliament might consider enacting a law against this practice, adding that; "It is indeed a pitiable spectacle to behold."

"We may lose the education of a great number of our youth through street-begging. Because of this begging business they are made to abandon school and follow their beggar relatives."

He said another important matter worth considering in this situation is whether this practice of making children abandon school to condone begging did not constitute child-labour and exploitation thereby infringing the provision in the Children's Act.

Rev Donkor said if such a law was passed the practice in question would become illegal so that the law enforcing agencies could enforce it to the letter.

Contributing to the statement Ms Christine Churcher, the Minister of Science and Environment, said the time had come for Ghanaians to look at the issue of parental responsibility.

She said most of these children become aides to the beggars to enable them afford a livelihood due to neglect of their irresponsible fathers.

Ms Churcher said parents did not have any excuse to say that they cannot pay their children school fees because basic education in country is now free.

She called for the early passage of the Disability Bill for Ghanaians to face the challenges of the physically disabled.

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