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Forced begging

Roman used to beg in the Helsinki region. Sometimes he begged at the Railway Square, some-times in other profitable areas. A man used to come and collect Roman’s money. When no one saw, Roman was abused. If he did not manage to raise enough money, he did not get any food. Roman was taught how he could get more money. He learned how to steal wallets and get the PIN code of the victim’s credit card. Roman did not want to commit crimes, but he had no other option. If he refused to do what he was told, the criminals would hurt his daughter.

Kerjäämään-pakotetun-kädetThe story and the characters are fictitious, but the story is based on one or more real-life cases.

Victims of forced begging do not want to beg

Forced begging is a form of human trafficking which may also involve forced criminal activity or organised crime. As in many other forms of human trafficking, the victims often come from a poor background. In Europe, most victims of forced begging are trafficked from Romania or Bulgaria to countries where begging is more profitable.

Persons who are forced to beg are not begging voluntarily: they have been coerced into it for example by threatening them with violence or through debt bondage. The victims do not get to keep the money given to them: some or all of it must be given to the abuser.

It is good to bear in mind, however, that not everyone who begs is coerced into it. For some, begging is a way to make a living. Having children beg is, however, always questionable. Begging should not compromise the child’s health, safety or education. When encountering children who beg, there is always a chance that the child is being exploited, and this possibility must always be considered.

Victims of forced begging often belong to a vulnerable population group

Kerjäämään-pakotettu-nainenPeople who are coerced into begging often belong to an especially vulnerable population group, which makes others want to help and donate them money. This is why victims of forced begging often are children, elderly or disabled. In some cases, abusers have been found to cause visible injuries to the victims or make them pretend that they have an injury in order to make the victims raise more money. This has been found to occur mainly outside Finland.

Victims of this form of human trafficking have been identified very rarely in Finland. Unlike Sweden, for example, Finland has so far not had any legal cases or legal practice on the subject of forced begging.