Jailed for begging
Savenaca Vakaliwaliwa, Delta, BC, Canada We read that a 51-year-old Lautoka woman has been jailed for one month for begging for money, while being a recipient of Social Welfare benefits. The woman is the first to be jailed in Fiji for begging and I believe she is not the only guilty one around. We have been told that many street beggars in Suva are also receiving Social Welfare benefits but are begging, because what they are receiving is not enough. A 51-year-old person should be able to work unless he/she has a disability. It does not make sense to send a Fijian beggar to prison, while our Government spent a lot of money in the recent celebrations for our first ever gold medal in the history of the Olympic Games. It does not make sense that in prison, this 51-year-old beggar will be assigned work like any other prisoner, but why is this not offered to her outside of prison? We have read about the Minister who set up a beggar to sell vegetables in the market, why not offer the same to this woman? Come on Women’s reps, where are you? Does this beggar have no living family or relatives? I humbly beg the Government to look into this case, yes it is illegal to beg but to put beggars in prison is not the image that we want to portray to our Pacific Island neighbours and the world.