Beggars in uniform

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Beggars have existed in human society since before the dawn of recorded history. Street begging has happened in most societies around the world, though its prevalence and exact form vary, according to Wikipedia.

Historically therefore, begging is as old as the world. In ancient Palestine and Greece, beggars were people who had been examined by the authorities and certified that they cannot help themselves, they cannot help their situations to improve in any form by themselves or family members, and finally, the authorities cannot help them either.

The authorities, after certifying them helpless, gave them permission to stay on the street corners and highways to beg, with official uniform – literally called garment (begging garment or cloak). With this, passers-by knew them and could throw a coin or two at them as the spirit led. This set of people included the blind, cripple, those with leprosy and other contagious ailments.

One thing was common with the beggars, once they were free from the ailment or their situation changes for the better, they were expected to drop the garment or cloak of begging, and the authorities must be notified.

In recent times, begging has been restricted or prohibited at various times and for various reasons, typically revolving around a desire to preserve public order or to induce people to work rather than beg for economic or moral reasons. Various EU nations ‘poor laws’ prohibit or regulate begging from the Renaissance to modern times, with varying levels of effectiveness and enforcement. Similar laws have been adopted by many other nations.

Enough of this boring history. The issue at hand is brought about by the lamentation of a young reporter BusinessDay sent to cover a programme in Cote d’ iVoire. Giving account on his return, he painted a … Read More...