Help the beggars

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:00am

It is disheartening to read 'The new untouchables', by Paul Mooney (Sunday Morning Post, January 11), about child trafficking on the mainland in which infants are moved in suitcases and youngsters are put out to beg.

Unfortunately, there is a similar situation in Hong Kong. In recent years, one can see beggars (mostly women) sitting by the roadside with children or infants in their embrace. More often than not, the youngsters are asleep or look like they are sedated. The women do not seem to be local people or typical beggars in rags.

No matter where they are from, they should not subject these children to public display for the purpose of begging. Morally speaking, using a child as a beggar is no different to living on the earnings of prostitution. These women clearly need help and using minors to beg should not be accepted in this city.

Unlike laid-off workers or right-of-abode seekers, they do not have a collective identity, they probably do not have the right to vote, and are virtually invisible to pressure groups or legislators seeking political leverage. They are the most vulnerable outcasts because nobody notices them, let alone cares what happens to them.

Are there any government departments or voluntary organisations which conduct outreach programmes that could help these women?