Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights


Legal Rights for the Poor

By Ana Maria Vargas
Lund University and the University of Milan

Street vendors' tents, Bogotá

Street vendors’ tents, Bogotá

Being poor, uneducated and unemployed can be a crime in many places in the world, particularly if you decide to sell food or other products in the streets. The penalties for selling products without a license or some other form of lawful permission are potentially as high as six months imprisonment in countries like Egypt, and can include the confiscation of a vendor’s goods and fines that have to be paid to the municipality. The plight of global street vendors is exemplified by the story of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit and vegetable vendor who set himself on fire in 2010 as a protest following the confiscation of his goods by the police, becoming a catalyst for the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring. 

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