It is one thing to see poor people begging on the streets for money to buy food, but it becomes quite another thing when the people begging are tourists who are asking for money to continue their travels.
This was made very clear in a collection of pictures showing people of all ages and cultures begging for money. The common thread was not that they were asking for money for food, but because they wanted to continue their travels.
It seems that poor people in southeast Asia are being joined by europeans asking for money. In countries where travel is considered to be a luxury, this is causing outrage among locals. In fact, in some countries it is against the law to beg or busk without a work visa.
Maisarah Abu Samah, from Singapore posted pictures of tourists trying to sell postcards and play music for money. In Singapore there are very strict rules against doing things like this. The question which Maisarah asked was why these people needed money as often they had expensive travel equipment with them while they sat begging.
“It was the first time I’ve seen something like that and it stopped me in my tracks,” she wrote.
“First of all, you don’t see many people selling knick-knacks or playing music in the street in Singapore because there are strict rules governing these activities.”
“We find it extremely strange to ask other people for money to help you travel. Selling things in the street or begging isn’t considered respectable.”
“People who do so are really in need: they beg in order to buy food, pay their children’s school fees or pay off debts.”
“But not in order to do something seen as a luxury.”
And, if you do happen to see street vendors or street performers, they are usually in the town centre and not near a bus stop in a relatively middle class neighbourbood like this. I’ve also never seen white people doing that.
In Singapore only people who are really desperate for money are seen to beg. They may have debts to pay off or need to put food on the table for children, but begging is not looked on favourably there.
Locals are therefore outraged because for these people to beg is considered an outrage, and gives the impression of perceived unfairness between locals and tourists. Maisarah questioned whether the people would actually do this in their own countries. If not, why did they think it was acceptable in other countries?
It seems that there are now even some websites which allow people to ‘beg for money’, while supposedly wanting to raise money for things such as travel.
A recent appeal for ‘David and Bash’ asked for money so they could backpack around southeast Asia, listing their need for airfares, accommodation and money to spend. To date they had only received $20.
Source: Daily Mail