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Exploitation of begging

The offense of forced begging is defined by article 225-12-5 of Law 2003-239 of March 18 2003. This article defines the exploitation of begging as follows:

"Exploitation of begging is committed when a person in any way:
1° organises begging by another, with a view to profiting from it;
2° profits from another person’s begging, shares the proceeds or receives income from a person who habitually engages in begging;
3° hires, trains or corrupts a person in order to start them begging or exercises pressure on a person for them to beg or to continue to do so;
4° for his personal gain, hires, trains or corrupts a person into offering services on a public highway in return for a donation.

The fact of being unable to account for an income compatible with one’s lifestyle while in practice influencing the behaviour of one or more persons who practise begging, or being in a constant relationship with him or them, is assimilated to the exploitation of begging.

Exploitation of begging is punished by three years’ imprisonment and by a fine of €45,000."

The most infamous case in France was the highly publicised Hamidovic affair in which the victims, (minor girls) were forced to pickpocket passerbys - mainly Asian tourists - in the Parisian metro and suffered abuse (cigarette burns, rape, etc. ) if they did not bring back the sums demanded. This highly structured networ is thought to have amassed no less than 1.3 million euros in 2009. The defendants, originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina , received from 4 to 12 years in prison, the sentence of Fehim Hamidovic, initially for 7 years, having been increased on appeal.

Photo credit : Danid Métra/Secours Catholique

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