It is now illegal to give money or food to a street child in Kampala, Uganda. If found guilty, you will be sentenced for six months or part with a fine of about Sh1,100.
This law has been put in place to prevent commercial and sexual exploitation of children. According to BBC Africa, street beggars have a tendency to use children so as to get more sympathy. Some parents and agents take advantage of children in order to rake in some money.
“It’s now a lucrative business for some individuals who procure these kids from various parts of the country and bring them on to the streets of Kampala. It’s a business. We want to bring that to an end,” Kampala’s Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago said.
In Kenya, it’s not any different as the number of street children has continued to grow every year. In fact, the number of street children has become greater than that of adults. In 2007, the Consortium of Street Children (CSC) did a study and found out that about 250,000 to 300,000 children in Kenya live and work on the streets. 60, 000 of those children are based in Nairobi.
Children on the streets of Nairobi are contracted by adults to beg during the day and then in the evening, they give away most of the money and remain with only a fraction of it. Children with disabilities are the most exploited, as they are expected to attract more sympathy.
According to the Children’s Act section 10, “every child shall be protected from economic exploitation” and from “any work that is likely to be hazardous.”
In addition, a child should not engage in any work that interferes with their education. The Act also stipulates that a child should not engage in work that is “harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development”.
Despite that Act, many children in Kenya have become the breadwinners of their families by begging on the streets. This helps them get more money as they elicit sympathy from people. However, while begging on those streets, the children risk abduction, and things like rape.