- A 10-month-old baby and its mother taken into custody by social services
- The baby from South Tangerang, Indonesia was being used as a ‘silver person’
- Silver people paint themselves entirely silver and mimic statues and beg
- Unemployment has increased in Indonesia due to the Covid-19 pandemic
A mother has been arrested and her baby taken by social services after the child was found painted silver as a prop for beggars in Indonesia.
The 10-month-old was ‘borrowed’ from their impoverished mother by a neighbour for 20,000 rupiah (AU$2) to buy ‘nappies and milk’.
Social workers were tipped off about photos of the baby posted online performing as ‘silver people’ in South Tangerang, two hours south of Jakarta.
Beggars in the area often paint their entire bodies and mimic statues, begging for money from passersby near traffic lights or in busy city centres.
They have become a visible symptom of rampant unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic that killed tens of thousands across Indonesia.
Indonesia’s Social Affairs Ministry has taken over the case and the mother and child are now in a ‘rehabilitation centre’.
‘We followed up the incident after a photo of the baby went viral on social media,’ Wahyunoto Lukman, head of the South Tangerang social services department, said.
‘The mother and child were picked up by the ministry and they will intervene and help them.
‘Whatever the reason for begging, this is child exploitation… we will assess the situation and see whether the child’s parents need to be equipped with skills so they can find better work or if they need help in the form of groceries.’
He said the public should refrain from giving money to street beggars as often the money did not go towards their livelihood.
Children’s Protection Commissioner Rita Pranawati urged the public to report child beggars, especially those who are put in ‘harmful positions’.
‘Putting children out on the streets is damaging to their health and psychology,’ she told The Australian.
‘We need to help each other to keep children out of harm’s way … so if you see this in your area, you must report it to local authorities.’
Unemployment in Indonesia rose from 4.94 per cent last year to 6.26 per cent in the first quarter this year, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
About 8.75 million people across the country are out of work and more than 27 million are living below the poverty line, up from 24.79 million in 2019.
The Indonesian Government pledged to reduce the poverty rate to single digits by the end of the year after it hit 10.19 per cent, the highest for three years.
Jakarta’s social welfare agency said the lack of available employment saw many finding alternate ways to raise money.
The agency said dozens of teens were painting themselves silver and carrying cardboard boxes to collect donations.
The metallic coating painted on the body is made with a combination of screen printing powder and kerosene, which can only be washed off by detergent or dishwashing soap.
The chemicals in the paint can cause rashes, itching, and skin infections.
By : Kate Rooney – Daily Mail Australia