Silver babies more common in Jakarta than you think: Komnas PA

A “silver baby” being used as a begging prop in South Tangerang on Sept. 24, 2021. Photo: Instagram
A “silver baby” being used as a begging prop in South Tangerang on Sept. 24, 2021. Photo: Instagram

While Indonesians are rightly concerned about a 10-month-old baby being sprayed with silver metallic paint and used as a sympathy magnet for begging, the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) says the practice is actually quite common in the capital.

Citing its own data of “silver people” recorded in the Greater Jakarta Area, Komnas PA said the street beggars/buskers — who usually spray paint their whole bodies silver as the main draw for their street performance — have been bringing their infants and toddlers along with increasing regularity recently.

“They live on the streets, in cardboard boxes, or under bridges,” Komnas PA Chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said yesterday.

The commission has recorded 189 silver families living in Jakarta, and hundreds more in its satellite cities.

“In Depok and South Tangerang we found 200 silver families that involved their toddlers and infants. This has become a worrying phenomenon,” Arist said, adding that the commission has noted a significant rise in the number of silver people since the pandemic began.

On Friday, authorities rescued a 10-month-old baby who was spray painted silver and used as a begging prop in South Tangerang. According to Satpol PP, the baby’s mother, 21-year-old NK, is a silver busker who would often leave the child with her neighbors, E and B, when she goes out to beg for money. 

E and B, who are also silver buskers, would spray the baby with paint as they go out to beg as well. They would then pay NK IDR20K (US$1.40) to pay for the baby’s milk and diapers.

NK and her baby are now under the care of the Social Agency, where they may be in line to receive social aid pending an eligibility assessment. Officials have not determined whether or not exposure to the metallic paint has done any physical harm to the baby.

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