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Help a Beggar, Pay a Fine

Carol Sottili

Proposed legislation in the Indonesian city of Medan would fine people, including tourists, about $660 for giving money to beggars. The city of 2.5 million, Indonesia's third largest, has about 11,000 beggars, many of them children.

On the face of it, the legislation seems mighty harsh. But city officials maintain that the beggars have formed organized gangs to harass tourists and residents. They also say that a recent survey concluded that beggars take home about $6 a day, while the average Indonesian takes home $2 a day. One official, Nabari Ginting, was quoted saying, "We'd rather people give money to orphanages or nursing homes."

But he also said, "We want to clean up the image of our city." Makes me wonder which thought is the driving motivation.

Do you give money to panhandlers? Are you more apt to give money when you're abroad in a poor country? Would you continue to do so if you could be fined?

By Carol Sottili |  August 13, 2007; 10:07 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili
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