Vrindavan, 2017.09.13 (VT): Most anyone who has visited Vrindavan has experienced children approaching them to ask for one or two rupees. Often, parents with a low income are unable to arrange child care while they work, so they send their children out into the streets to sell trinkets or to simply beg to make a little more money for the family.
Keeping aside the more complex issue of the beggar mafia, even children from families that are not very poor sometimes beg in the streets to make pocket money. The parents, seeing no harm in it, allow or even encourage them to do so.
Recent events prove just how dangerous this type of behavior is.
Over the last month, there have been at least two cases of men luring children with cash and committing foul acts. In early August a six-year-old girl was led to a closed shop by a neighbor and raped in Mathura. The man had lured her by offering her a few rupees.
Again, just a few days ago in Vrindavan, a 55-year-old “sadhu” raped a child after luring her with a mere ten rupees. Not finding her at home, the girl’s mother searched for her. Hearing her screams coming from an ashram, the mother went inside. Taking the help of some local gentleman, she had the door of the “sadhu’s” room broken down. There she discovered her daughter had been victimised. Sadly many such stories never make the news, as those wishing to help victims fear being blamed for the crime themselves by corrupt officials.
The influx of outside forces into Vrindavan, including casual tourists, criminals in the guise of sadhus as well as itinerant workers who leave no paper trail and are hard to trace, is likely compounding the problem. Locals say that drugs are also becoming prevalent in certain areas and upsetting the balance of life in the holy land.
By allowing children to beg for money, families make them easy targets for pedophiles and child trafficking. Hopefully such tragic stories will force parents to evaluate their parenting choices, and realize that allowing children to approach strangers in the street is a recipe for disaster.