Family Rationales behind Child Begging in Antananarivo

Short papers
By Jérôme Ballet, Augendra Bhukuth, Felana Rakotonirinjanahary, Miantra Rakotonirinjanahary, Emily Divinagracia, Catriona Dutreuilh


Child beggars form a specific category of child workers. They are generally associated with street-living children, as defined by UNICEF. Analysis of begging thus generally focuses on children’s survival strategies. Using data from an exploratory survey conducted in Antananarivo in autumn 2009, this research paper shows that in the Madagascan capital, the vast majority of child beggars are in fact exploited by their family and do not live on the streets. It proposes a typology of child beggar categories based on the level of parental coercion, looking at family rationales and child beggar trajectories. Possible interpretations are discussed. The findings show that at least three categories of child beggars can be defined. They are associated with different levels of child coercion and correspond to specific age groups. The youngest children are beaten by their family to force them to beg. Above a certain age, physical violence becomes less common and, instead, the children are deprived of food. Last, for the oldest children, violence becomes psychological, with children made to feel guilty about their family’s plight so that they continue to beg on its behalf.


  • Child labour
  • begging
  • violence
  • exploitation
  • Madagascar
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