26pc persons with disabilities forced into begging
About 26 percent of the persons with disabilities were forced into begging by their own family members who also refused to take their responsibility of well-being, says a study.
Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) conducted the research to find out correlation between poverty and begging among physically challenged beggars.
The study titled "Poverty, Disability and Street Beggars: Reflections from Dhaka City" also shows that beggars spend about 53 percent of their income to arrange food for their physically able family members.
It reveals that physically challenged beggars are excluded from obtaining the disability card provided by the government under its social protection schemes. They are almost never enrolled in the voter list, it adds.
Presenting the findings at a view exchange meeting at LGED auditorium yesterday, Dr Mahbub Alam, one of the researchers who conducted the study for MJF, said there is a significant correlation between disability, poverty and begging. Women, children and aged persons with disabilities are more vulnerable in this regard, he said.
Explaining the findings Alam said persons with disabilities are unable to create opportunity for themselves, which pushes them down the poverty line. At the same time, poverty causes many to force their family members with disabilities into begging.
The study also reveals that the beggars in the capital spend a large chunk of their income, about 46 percent for accommodation, which is most cases in appalling condition. But only five percent of their income is spent for food, it says.
The physically challenged beggars cannot get out of this vicious cycle of poverty because there is no social support system for them, said Khandaker Jawaherul Alam, president of National Forum of Organisation Working with the Disabled (NFOWD).
Pointing out the government's recent plan to rehabilitate physically challenged beggars Gazi Md Nurul Kabir, managing director of National Disabled Development Foundation, said the government plans to establish eight rehabilitation centres with dormitories for physically challenged and aged beggars.
The government will first conduct a survey on the beggars to find out their exact numbers. Then the beggars will be trained at the centres with certain skills suited for their physical condition, he added.
Male and female beggars will be rehabilitated in separate centres, he mentioned.
The study suggested inclusion of physically challenged beggars under the disability card programme, providing them interest free loans so that they can start small business and creating access to education for physically challenged children with specially designed books.
The study also suggested developing a mechanism to find out what kind of persons with disabilities are at risk and have a chance to become beggars.
AHM Noman Khan, executive director of Centre for Disability in Development, Ferdousy Begum Ruby, deputy director of Action on Disability and Development, Md Hossain Molla, joint secretary of Department of Social Welfare, among others spoke.