14 Aug 2008

Begging only option for many in Fiji says crisis centre

9:58 pm on 14 August 2008

The Women's Crisis Centre in Fiji says begging is the only option for many families as poverty and unemployment in the islands rise.

The interim Social Welfare ministry plans to make it a criminal offence to give cash to children begging on the streets.

Under the current legislation, police and social welfare agencies can charge parents with exploiting and neglecting their children.

But the Women's Crisis Centre's Shamima Ali says introducing such a law would be wrong.

"It seems that the interim regime has nothing better to do than passing such inane and cruel laws," she says.

"We have a situation of increasing poverty in this country and families are out on the streets, trying to make a living, trying to survive."

Ms Ali predicts if such a law is passed, begging will go underground and many more women and children will be forced into prostitution.