Muscat: As beggars become an ubiquitous presence all over Oman, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) has urged people to help combat this menace effectively since it has "negative social implications."
The ROP, in coordination with the Ministry of Social Development, has set up a team to curb the practice. This team can be approached on phone numbers 24704886, 24794949 and 24707405.
The ROP, in a statement, said that people of various nationalities were found begging in various areas. "This practice has adverse social implications and it came from outside and has entered the Omani society," it said.
Beggars frequent many areas including those in the vicinity of mosques and marketing complexes. Some of these beggars pretend as if they really need help.
According to Article 234 of the Omani Penal Code, begging is a crime. If anyone is spotted begging in a public place, he or she would have to face an imprisonment for a period of two months to a year with a fine of OMR 50-100.
Children being used for begging
According to the data of Ministry of Social Development, more than 500 people, both Omanis and expatriates, were arrested while begging in Muscat. Among them, 264 were Omanis and 245 were non-Omanis. Of the Omanis caught, 200 were men and 64 were women. Among the 245 non-Omani beggars, 173 were men
and 72 women.
Some families are reported to have utilising their children for begging. The data from 2013 suggests that eight males and 12 females arrested were aged below 12 years and 33 males and five females were aged between 12 and 18 years. There were 117 males and 51 females in the age group of 18 to 40 years.
The largest segment belonged to the age group between 40 and 60 years. There were 136 males and 46 females in this age group.
Then came the age group of those above 60 years, which had 79 males and 22 females, according to the ministry's data.