KARACHI - Beggar girls are found almost at every intersection and market place in the City, but what is not usual this time is the apathy and non-notice of the presence of young and adolescent girls, and some of these beggar girls make themselves available.
They are part of a larger crowd of beggars belonging to every age and gender. Of late, their numbers have been on the rise, and they do not look conspicuous in the larger crowd.
The Centre of Excellence for Women Studies, University of Karachi, has conducted interviews with beggar girls at the 17 locations of the metropolis, where they are visible in large numbers including Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Clifton, Landhi, Malir, Saddar, Liaquatabad, Gulistan-e-Johar, FB Area, Sharah-e-Faisal, Mehmoodabad, Jail Chowrangi, Bahadurabad, Tower, Garden, and Cantt Station. The statistics told that 78 per cent of the beggar girls were 12 to 15 years of age, and the next group was 9 to 11 years old while only 9 per cent said they were around 6 to 8 years old.
The largest number of beggar girls, 52 per cent identified cities and districts of Sindh as their places of origin, and the largest group of 21 per cent claimed locations in Punjab from where their families migrated to Karachi. Bangladeshi girls were 9 per cent and 7 per cent from NWFP.
About 52per cent beggar girls said they were Muslims, and those who claimed to be Hindu were 45 per cent while 3 per cent said they were Christians.
About 34 per cent beggar girls said they had been migrated to Karachi and residing here for the last 6 years.
The mother tongue of the largest group of the beggar girls interviewed was Sindhi 51 per cent, while Urdu 2 per cent, Bengali 10 per cent, Seraiki 12 per cent, Pashto 8 per cent, Punjabi 8 per cent, and Balochi 8 per cent.
Majority of the 84 per cent of beggar girls belonged to nuclear families and the other 16 per cent belonged to joint families. When asked how they started begging as a mean of livelihood, 57 per cent said it were their parents and 10 per cent said that their grandfather started it.
The 17 per cent of the beggar girls said they had physical relationship experience while 15 per cent of admitted it was by their consent, 2 per cent said they went for it on the pretext of getting work. Another 3 per cent disclosed that they were forced, two of them were insulted by their relatives and one said her father sends her forcefully to customers.