Beggars at a religious festival in Nanchang, southern China, have been ordered to either stay in specially-built metal cages or risk being removed from the city, in an attempt to stop them from harassing visitors.
Living in a country where begging is a very lucrative business, I know what it’s like to constantly be disturbed by various characters asking for money (not food, money), but what these Chinese festival organizers did is a bit extreme. According to a Nanchang official, in recent years the number of beggars turning up for the local religious festival has increased to a point where they’re actually making temple visitors uncomfortable with their lamenting and pleading for some pocket change. So this year, to make sure everyone attending the festivities will be left alone, they decided to separate the hundreds of beggars in small metal cages around the festival grounds, where people can still give donations if they wish, but without being followed around and nagged while they’re on a day out with their family. Organizers did point out that the beggars in this pop-up human zoo entered their cages voluntarily and that no one is actually forcing them to beg for a living…
“The beggars are quite comfortable in their cages, people send them food and water as gifts. In a way it is better for them there than having to find a place on the busy streets,” festival organizers said.” The beggars can leave whenever they like but they have to leave the city too, they can’t go into the fair,’ they added. As you can imagine, this unusual way to keep beggars at bay attracted the wrath of human rights activists. “Do they want people to believe the region has no poor people and just put on a good show? These people need help. We should not be allowing them to be locked away in cages. These people are human beings too,” one said, while another commented “They are treating them like zoo animals. What will they have to do next – tricks for their food? This is nothing but public humiliation!”
Although organizers say the measure was taken for their own good, many Nanchang festival visitors said they were horrified by the sight of beggars sticking their hands out through the metal bars. The cages are reportedly so small that adults can’t even stand up in them, but judging from the photos they are just separated from festival goers by metal railings.
via Daily Mail
photos via Offbeat China