In 2008, a law restoring the ban on begging came into force in Geneva, making it the first canton in French-speaking Switzerland to have adopted a law on the subject and launching a contemporary debate on the issue. This law was seen by some as a necessary measure to regulate a encreasing inflow (or perceived as such) of people identified as Roma. Others describe the law as a «punishment for misery». Ten years later, the law has not eliminated begging, but it has precarized the situation of beggars. How can we understand the choice of this measure to manage cohabitation in the public space and what are its effects for the people concerned? Based on the results of a survey conducted in Geneva between 2013 and 2015, this article shows that if this law has not made begging disappear, it is because it reduces this practice to a problem of public order rather than offering alternatives for social participation to the people concerned. Indeed, in political debates, this practice is presented as a problem of public order, which calls for a functional regulation of space. But for those who resort to it, it is a paradoxical way of taking one’s place in society from the margins.