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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Star Exclusive Proves Child Beggars Used by Human Trafficking Syndicates in City Stop Enriching the Syndicates by giving money


Begging for the human traffickers

BY Y SIM LEOI LEOI, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, NATASHA JOIBI, andFATIMAH ZAINAL





Forced into it: A foreigner with a child spotted soliciting for donations in Kuala Lumpur. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star


EXCLUSIVE: KUALA LUMPUR: They tell you the same tale each time.

They took bus number 300 from Ampang to Masjid India here where they prowl the bazaars, begging or selling religious books.

Their fathers are either dead or sick and when you ask them for identification, they flash cards supposedly issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). That card seems to be their passport to begging in the city.

However, it seems more likely that these are children and youths who have been trafficked here and used by syndicates to beg.

Those in the know claim these children have to collect at least RM200 a day in alms before they are allowed to go back to where they stay.




Police conduct frequent operations and the rescued victims are sent to shelters while the UNHCR is contacted. The syndicates’ workers and minders are also detained but the flow of young beggars continues unabated.

The masterminds behind the syndicates remain anonymous and well hidden and it is hard for police to expose them, seize their assets and bring them to justice. The victims just know them as “bosses”.

While police continue to hunt for these bosses, a stroll in the busiest parts of the city will take you past a group of their young victims who are forced to beg.
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A team from The Star visited Masjid India here a few times and encountered several groups of these children.




image: http://thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/08/05/begging-for-the-human-traffickers-children-ferried-to-masjid-india-and-forced-to-beg-or-sell-religio/~/media/98f5a0aff694401d8227a16d40504a07.ashx?h=558&w=600
Regular sight: A woman and two children begging from the traders in Masjid India.



Usually accompanied by a few women, the groups start working the crowds of tourists, traders and passers-by as early as 11am and are there until 5pm or 6pm.

On Fridays, there are up to 10 children begging in Masjid India alone.

Contrary to the children’s innocent account of taking the bus to get there, people in the area have seen them being driven in cars or a van from a building on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

When approached, a woman who claimed to have a UNHCR card bearing the name Rahimah Abdul Rahim, 34, said she was the mother of five children, who all have cards.

“None of them is in school. I have no money so I send them out to get some from people to buy food,” said Rahimah, who said her eldest child was 12 and the youngest, four.

One of “her” boys said he was not afraid to be on the streets because he had the UNHCR card. He showed his UNHCR card but its authenticity could not be verified.

The Star team tried to discreetly tail the children but they were wary, often turning back to look.

When a reporter asked to buy one of the yassin books, one of the girls even asked her why she wanted it because she did not appear to be a Muslim.

An Alam Flora worker, who gave his name only as Palas, said he often saw the women who accompanied the children waiting at a building on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
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“The children would pass the money they got to the women,” he said. He, too, said the children were ferried about in cars and vans.

Another reporter in Masjid India was offered religious books for RM3 and RM5 by other children. These books, imported from India at 50 sen each, are sold for RM1.50 to RM2.50 by nearby traders.

Asked why the children were selling the books at such high prices, one trader said it was because they were part of a syndicate.

“They get the books from a boss, likely to be a Rohingya,” she said, adding that she saw the children there every day.

A book distributor in Masjid India admitted selling the books to the children at 80 sen apiece.

Like other traders, he said he imported the books from India – up to 10,000 copies at a time.

However, he stopped bringing them in after the Home Ministry raided his store last year and seized the books because they had no official stamp.

When the reporter told him she had bought a book for RM5, he was shocked.

“These are the cheapest books (of their kind) on the market,” he said.

“We are running out of stock because the children are always buying them and we no longer make new orders. They buy 50 books each time.”


Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/08/05/begging-for-the-human-traffickers-children-ferried-to-masjid-india-and-forced-to-beg-or-sell-religio/#IIiWG3VDU0ue80IZ.99

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