In this archive story we are meeting an Indian beggar girl in the Ram Nagar neighborhood in Delhi, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Giving money to child beggars is the least generous thing a tourist can do. Because when we give money directly to child beggars, we actually hurt more than we help. But the imperative to not give money or gifts does not mean we have to turn our backs on them. This Indian beggar girl was portrayed by the photographer in the Ram Nagar area of Delhi, India.
Giving money to child beggars is the least generous thing a tourist can do. Because when we give money directly to child beggars, we actually hurt more than we help. But the imperative to not give money or gifts does not mean we have to turn our backs on them. This Indian beggar girl was portrayed by the photographer in the Ram Nagar area of Delhi, India.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on February 29, 2024

Delhi beggar girl

Tourists should never give money to child beggars we meet abroad, not even the cute ones, not even the disabled ones, not even the ones who want money for school. Do not give them money or candy or pens because it is not generous. In fact, it is one of the most harmful and selfish things a well-meaning tourist can do. So when we, well-intentioned tourists, give money directly to child beggars, there is a decent chance we are actually lining the pockets of criminals who will turn around and use that money to abduct, enslave, rape, torture and maim even more kids.

Which is better to give money to beggars or charity?

An organised charity eliminates all these doubts. They will spend the money on shelters and food, not alcohol and cigarettes. They will ensure that the money is distributed amongst the most needy. All this taken into account, giving to an organisation instead of one beggar is far more helpful.

Delhi, a hard life in India
As a photographer and traveler in India it is hard to ignore the begging conditions in India. Conditions that the photographer felt that he had to photograph. It is a devastating pill to swallow, since enslaved children who return to their captors without money might be beaten, tortured or worse. But by giving them money, we only encourage the cycle, finance a horrific business model and put future children in grave danger. When we give directly to children, we hurt more than we help. So how can we know if a child beggar is a victim of trafficking? Actually, we do not need to know. Even in the best scenarios, giving money or gifts directly to kids is always a bad idea.

Tourists who give Child beggars money, pens or other trinkets can interfere with a family's social dynamic and undermine the authority of those children's parents, who cannot offer those kinds of gifts. Even giving children pens "for school" is problematic, since begging for pens to resell is a strong incentive to skip school in the first place and because many schools around the world prefer re-useable chalk and slate, many kids likely could not use those pens in class anyway.

Physical gifts also undercut local businesses, after all, the woman who sells pens at her corner store probably has children to feed, too. Simply put, as tourists, we just do not have the knowledge, experience or long-term investment in the communities we visit to understand whether our generosity might do more harm than good. Even the most seemingly harmless gifts often enable terrible suffering. Many travelers already know that when we give money or gifts that can be resold, such as pens, we perpetuate a Circle of poverty and give children a strong incentive to stay out of school.

"Organized begging is one of the most visible forms of human trafficking and it is largely financed and enabled by good-hearted people who just want to help"

Girl beggars in Delhi
As with the beggar girl photographed at the Ram Nagar in Delhi, one also may already know that giving candy to children in some areas of the world actually causes enormous suffering, since many communities do not have the resources to treat tooth decay. But the reasons to never, ever give to child beggars go much deeper than that. The marriage of minors, which has been banned since 2006, is still widespread in many regions of India and the main drivers of this practice are young girls who are themselves children and who become mothers too early and many of them die at birth and it has been said that almost 45 percent of girls in India are still married before they reach the age of majority.

Lack of education, no opportunities without education
Although child labour for children under the age of 14 is prohibited by law in India, 12.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work according to official figures. Aid organizations assume that there are actually many more and 65 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 do not go to school. Instead, it is believed that they contribute to their families' livelihood. To ensure their own and the survival of their relatives, Indian children work in the field, in factories, in quarries, in private households and in prostitution instead of going to school. It has been said that around 25 percent of children in India have no access to education.

"The number of children excluded from school is higher among girls than among boys. Although women and men are treated equally under Indian law, girls and women are considered inferior, especially in the lower social castes and are oppressed by their fathers, brothers and husbands. Without education, the chance of a living job is practically hopeless, life in poverty in India is programmed"

Begging children in India
In India, roughly 60,000 children disappear each year, according to official statistics. Some human rights groups estimate that the actual number is much higher than that. Many of these children are kidnapped and forced to work as beggars for organized criminal groups. These children are not allowed to keep their earnings or go to school and are often starved so that they will look gaunt and cry, thereby eliciting more sympathy and donations from tourists. And since disabled child beggars get more money than healthy ones, criminal groups often increase their profits by cutting out a child's eyes, scarring his face with acid or amputating a limb. To prevent the children from running away, traffickers often keep kids addicted to opium or other drugs.

See this video about beggars in India made by Trendminati.

The photographer's own experience of photographin beggars in India
"- Once you are set-up and your picture's framed, take a look at your white balance settings and auto white balance will work with the majority of these photographs. It also helps ensure the lights in the background are glowing the color they are meant to be. As well as using the Indian daylight, you can use the other lights of the city to create some dynamic images. Illuminated advertising can add an interesting twist to urban portraits and so can reflections. The most powerful sign of poverty is the emptiness in the eyes of people who have experienced it. As a photographer, you will most likely encounter a range of people, all affected by poverty, from the elderly to children. They will be begging for money, food, clothing anything that can help them survive. It can be hard to look into the eyes of these people and understand their suffering", the Photographer says.

"- The physical signs of poverty can also be overwhelming. Seeing shanty towns and homeless encampments, people huddling together for warmth in the streets, makeshift dwellings, all can be difficult to fully comprehend. While these images are powerful, they are also heartbreaking. It can be impossible not to be moved to grief and compassion after spending time with the people affected by poverty in India. Tragically, many of them can no longer provide for themselves and are dependent on handouts from charities and donations to get by. It takes courage for people to speak out for themselves despite their living conditions and many of them are a source of inspiration in the face of their struggles"
, the Photographer says again.

"- If you are out to photograph these specifically portraits in India then be sure to go around in Ram Nagar in Delhi. There are usually plenty of places in this area to take portraits, all of which make excellent inspired images and photographing people of interest will make your portraits"
, the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Street child in Delhi

Read also:  Street child in Delhi

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a beggar girl in Delhi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.