Beggars harassed the most in Oslo

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They’ve been kicked, hit and even spat upon as they sit on street corners and outside stores hoping for a handout. Homeless Romanians in Norway who make up the vast majority of beggars in the country say they experience the worst treatment in the capital city of Oslo, according to a new study from research foundation Fafo.

Many in Sweden think that Norway has voted in a racist government, and that the Progress Party went to the polls with what one commentator described as "Breivik-style rhetoric," and a call to throw all migrant Roma out of the country. Norway's Holocaust Center is also now investigating it's own treatment of Norwegian Roma during World War II. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Beggars in Oslo suffer more abuse than those in the two other Scandinavian capitals, according to a new study. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The study, based on interviews with more than 1,200 beggars in all three Scandinavian capitals, outlined the most common forms of harassment and abuse they experience in Oslo. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday that verbal abuse suffered by more than half of those interviewed in Oslo came in addition to the physical attacks, but beggars claim they’ve also been doused with beer or other liquids while their cups have been kicked over or stolen.

Fafo researchers wrote that only one out of three beggars interviewed in Stockholm and Copenhagen reported the same. Those in Oslo said they’d learned to be especially wary of drunk Norwegians on the streets, as they were among the most likely to harass or attack them.

Not allowed to return redeemable bottles
Fully 27 percent of Romanians who identified themselves as part of the roma ethnic group said they also had been denied access to grocery stores in Oslo, where they often arrive with plastic bags full of empty redeemable bottles that they’ve retrieved from the streets or garbage cans. Each bottle can yield at least one krone through the bottle-return machines found in grocery stores, so collecting and redeeming them can be an important source of income.

In Stockholm only 9 percent of the roma said they were denied access to grocery stores, while 13 percent were denied access in Copenhagen. In Oslo, 38 percent said they were not allowed to use bottle return machines in Oslo, compared to 7 percent in Stockholm and 17 percent in Copenhagen.

Fafo researcher Guri Tyldum described the beggars in Oslo as “free game” and “we were a bit surprised by that,” she told NRK. “Ethnic roma folk are subjected to harassment to a higher degree than in Copenhagen and Stockholm. They’re a group vulnerable to exploitation.”

Not part of organized networks
The Fafo study also reported that the vast majority of beggars interviewed claimed to have arrived in Scandinavia on their own or with groups of family members and acquaintances. “We could find no sign of any organized criminal networks that manipulate street workers to travel to Scandinavia, in order to take parts of their income,” wrote the researchers. All of those interviewed had a good overview of how much money they’d collected and no one mentioned money that went to others. Several Norwegian media outlets reported the Fafo study thus “dashed the myth” that most beggars are attached to organized crime.

Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang told NRK he was disappointed by the results of the Fafo study, calling it “very sad” and “unacceptable” that the beggars are treated so badly in Oslo. “Every single one of us must confront this within ourselves,” Stang said. “We are responsible for our own actions.”

Stang said that he thinks the best way to help beggars is to improve the economy where they live, so that they won’t feel a need to beg in Scandinavia. “But when they are here in the city, we must behave properly towards them,” Stang said. “It’s completely unacceptable for anyone to spit on og kick anyone in this city.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

  • frenk

    ‘Nice people Norwegians’?

  • Ja_ja

    Who’s harassing who here?! Every single day I am harassed multiple times by a beggar/group of beggars who thrust their dirty hands and cups towards my face looking for a handout.

    I have zero sympathy for them I am afraid. Their behaviour brings this on themselves. They have been offered help in the past and refuse to integrate into society.

    It is especially depressing that down by Brugata I have to travel past large groups with their trash strewn all over the street. If I was a woman, I wouldn’t feel safe. They are also complete eyesaws and an embarrassment for tourists who came to Norway on a promise of picture postcards of the fjords. They give off such a bad impression of Oslo for anyone visiting them or walking past a group camped in a park.

    They ignore all laws of the land driving their vehicles without tax or proper insurance (probably not even registered ) take public transport without paying (I’m sure they wouldn’t be harassed by a Ruter inspector for 900 nok if found without a ticket).

    Only Norwegians I’ve seen are tolerant ones towards them. Or politely shaking their head as a cup gets thrust under their nose. I wouldn’t believe this propaganda. If Oslo kommune had dealt with this a few years ago and kicked them out and made begging illegal we all wouldn’t have to suffer the 1000s of them there are now up and down this hitherto nice country.

  • Gabrielle Bekkvang

    I don’t like being accosted on my way into a market. I work for my Money and they should do the same.
    In Canada, begging-called panhandling- is not legal as People will avoid shopping where begging occurs. Norway should do the same. The People in Parliament are not qualified to run this country! So many issues!

  • Adam

    I’ve just come back from a visit to Oslo. It was amazing but the only thing that ruined it form me is being constantly harassed by beggars. The native homeless are very polite and cause not problems but the Roma beggars are nasty and aggressive. Me and my wife were approached by one male who tried to lead me away from my wife so she could be targeted by a larger group. This did not happen as I pushed him and stood my ground and they backed off. It is ridiculous that begging is legal in Norway. Begging in the UK has been illegal since the 1800’s and is heavily enforced by the police especially in the capital. This is not something to be ashamed of at all and I’m surprised by the articles I’m reading. Begging and giving money to these people does not help them. So many homeless charity’s even state this is the case as if they can get money begging why should they engage with charitable groups that will make them do something to help themselves.