Skip to main content

Rome's Beggar Problem


Whenever I walk along via Marsala towards Rome's Termini train station, I see a middle-aged black man sitting in front of a church. He wears shabby clothes, and his left leg is wrapped in bandages that make it look as if his foot had been amputated. It appears as if he does nothing all day except for asking people for money. 

One afternoon, as I was passing by that church, the man, after having received a coin from a tall, blond tourist, suddenly - and perhaps believing that no one was watching him - took off his bandages, revealing a perfectly intact, healthy foot. 

As I drew closer to him, our eyes met. I smiled and shook my head disapprovingly. He, too, smiled, and I believe to have discerned a hint of embarrassment, if not shame, on his face. 

Rome has a serious problem with people roaming around the city and asking for money. To be fair, this does not concern only immigrants, but also locals. Recently I bumped into a guy from Naples who claimed to be a member of an organization of ex-convicts trying to start a new life. He wanted to sell me two bracelets for 4 euros. He kept insisting, at times becoming a bit aggressive. Later an Italian woman tried to sell me overpriced socks. She, too, claimed to be in need of help. 

Many of these people can be seen in the same areas on a daily basis. For example, a woman with a non-Italian accent always wanders around the train station. She goes into cafes, restaurants, or stands in front of shops, and asks for money. "Excuse me," she'll say in an imploring tone, "please have mercy, give me one euro, God bless you!" If shopkeepers kick her out, she'll argue with them. 

There are places in Rome where you cannot go out without encountering at least one person asking you for money. 

In some respects this phenomenon has to do with Rome's huge migrant issue. According to The Guardian, Italy has around 180,000 asylum seekers and refugees, most of them in or near Rome. Many are sheltered in temporary camps, or have occupied empty buildings. 

However, as I mentioned before, many Italians do the same, too. It seems to me that this problem is a combination of different factors. 

First of all, Italy's notorious lack of organization and resources. For instance, Italy's police forces are among the worst paid in Europe. Junior police officers earn as little as 16.675,88 euros per year. 

Secondly, Italy has huge economic and social issues, leading people to look for opportunities to make money in illegal or semi-legal ways. 

I am ashamed of this. One the one hand, I feel less safe in my own country than I did in Germany, Taiwan or Hong Kong. On the other hand, I feel sorry for all the tourists who go to Rome to visit its beautiful old buildings, and are forced to deal with individuals who take advantage of them. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Rumours About Chinese Actress Fan Bingbing's Arrest Spread Online

Rumours about the arrest of Chinese model and actress Fan Bingbing on charges of tax evasion have spread on Chinese media.
As Apple Daily reports, celebrity Fan Bingbing and her younger brother Fan Chengcheng have allegedly been detained for taking part in a tax evasion scheme alongside her manager, Mu Xiaoguang.
Mu has also allegedly been charged with destroying incriminating evidence.

On May 28 TV anchor Cui Yongyuan posted on Weibo a contract that showed Fan Bingbing being paid $1.56 million (RMB10 million) for four days’ work on director Feng Xiaogang's film “Cell Phone 2.” 

Later Cui released another contract worth $7.8 million (RMB50 million) for the same work. He alleged that Fan had declared to tax authorities only the first contract, thus avoiding to pay taxes on the second, larger amount. 

Double-contracts for the purpose of tax evasion are known in China as "yin-yang contracts". 

Although the Chinese government censored Cui's posts, in early June China's t…

Why Liberals Should Embrace Fair Trade, Debate Role Of Tariffs

On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver made fun of Donald Trump's tariffs and mocked him for not understanding how free trade works.  
Oliver noted that tariffs are paid by importers and typically passed along to US consumers, leading to higher prices. Tariffs could cost the US hundreds of thousands of jobs, Oliver argued. 
Trade deficits "aren't actually always bad, and many economists believe, for very complex reasons involving savings rates and the dollar's special status as the world's reserve currency, that America's trade balance might be more or less where it should be," he said.
Oliver argued that "the overwhelming consensus among economists is that trade between countries generally speaking can create jobs, lower costs, and be a net benefit to both nations." 
But is John Oliver right?

We shall argue that although Trump's tariffs lack a clear strategy and are therefore not the right path for the US, tariffs…

Chinese Dissidents Found Shanghai Independence Party, Oppose Communist Rule

A group of Chinese dissidents has founded a new party that challenges the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and advocates Shanghai independence. 
Since Xi Jinping took office in 2012, the Chinese government has tightened its grip on civil society and the media, cracking down on free speech, hardening its stance towards Taiwan and launching an all-out assault on Uighur society. However, the Party's increasingly oppressive policies are causing a backlash. 
In the United States a group of Chinese dissidents have formed the Shanghai National Party (上海民族黨), also called Humindang (滬民黨), from the character Hu (滬), the short name for Shanghai. 
「上海民族黨」在紐約成立 反共並要求上海獨立 https://t.co/KQEzGIEDqgpic.twitter.com/IHOwIeuUKe — RFI 華語 - 法國國際廣播電台 (@RFI_TradCn) August 12, 2018

The party, registered on July 18 in New York, United States, promotes the overthrow of the Communist regime and the independence of Shanghai. The slogan of the party is: "Leave China, return to Europe, compreh…