Begging in Saudi Arabia has become a lucrative pastime and even the least entrepreneurial can rake in a monthly income of about $15,000, according to Badr Bajabir, the secretary general of the permanent committee to combat human trafficking.
“There are organized gangs behind this trade, which is an obvious example of human trafficking,” Bajabir said, in an interview with the Saudi Gazette published on Monday.
He added that women and children were being widely used as tools in this crime. “The children and women were being used for begging and also for the distribution of drugs and porno films by coercion, seduction, temptation, threats and other means,” he said.
Bajabir said some women and children would be taken to unscrupulous doctors to permanently disfigure them before they were sent to the streets to beg. According to him, about 80% of beggars in the Kingdom are non-Saudis, reported the Saudi Gazette.
He said under the Saudi law, the use of women and children in begging is a flagrant crime that may lead to 15 years behind bars. “Individuals who are found to be behind this crime will also be asked to pay fines of not less than SR1 million while companies and establishments will be fined SR10 million,” he said.
He recalled the story of a foreigner who was jailed for 18 months and ordered to pay a big fine for forcing his two wives to beg.
“This man distributes his 11 children in various areas in Jeddah to beg. His monthly income is well above SR60,000,” he said.
Bajabir said some employees of the cleaning companies contracted to municipalities, who are given charity out of compassion, allegedly rent their official uniforms in the evenings at SR10 an hour to beggars to help them make more money.