- Joel Gunter
- The BBC came to Africa
Last month, the BBC Africa Eye found an illegal market for the sale and purchase of children in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Upon learning of the incident, police arrested seven people on smuggling charges. But apart from the smugglers, there are mothers of children on the other side as well as in illegal buying and selling, what is their position? Why are there reasons where a mother agrees to sell her child for only 0?
Adama says life was easy when she was with her parents. Where there was less money, there weren’t many options, but things were somewhat organized. She went to school, had no problem eating and drinking. Anxiety was low. When Adam was 12, his father died and his mother died a few years later.
“Life has been very difficult since then. I had to drop out of school and make a living in Gurjar Basar,” says Adama in a western Kenyan village.
At age 22, Ada met a man and became pregnant. Adama gave birth to a daughter, but the baby’s father died just three days later.
Adama raised the girl in some way. But after 18 months, both of them needed income to survive. Adama left her child with her elderly grandmother and moved to Nairobi in search of work.
Her elderly grandmother told Adama, “Be careful you’re looking for your child’s life.”
Looking for work
After arriving in Nairobi, Ada started selling melons on the streets, but it was not earning much. She steals whatever money she brings home. The challenges of life in the city were even greater. Adama suffered a forehead injury that was applied during self-defense. About this mark, Adama said, “Some people were joking around meaninglessly. When things went awry, I had to face them for self-defense.”
After this, Adama began working on a construction site, where he received no pay. After this she went to the night club. Adama requested the governor to send her straight to Nani in Pagar village. A few days later, she began to keep some money so that she could rent a house to live in. A few days later, with a slightly better salary, Adama got a job at another construction site, where he met a man. The two started dating each other. A few days later, the man told Adama about the child’s desire.
Adama put a condition in front of the man and said that if he brought his daughter to the village, they could both do the same to their child. The man agreed. After being pregnant in Ada for months, the man collected the house rent and bills, brought food and food to the house. Adama was waiting for the right time when he brought his daughter to town and one day the man disappeared and never returned.
When there is no place to eat for themselves, many women may feel anxious to give birth. However, in such a situation, it is difficult for someone to sell their child to an unknown person. But for some mothers living in extreme poverty in Kenya, saving their children from being trafficked is one of the options.
Buying and selling babies for a small amount of money
Traffickers pay a nominal fee for these children. Sarah was just 11 years old when she became pregnant for the second time. He had no means to feed the child. He sold his child to a woman who offered Kenyan shillings for less than Rs.
“I was so young at the time, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong. Five years later I started to get hurt. I wanted to give the woman her money back,” she said.
Many women who sell their children for such money know it all. She said, “A lot of girls sell their babies because of difficult challenges. Maybe their mother has tortured them and nothing or she’s still in school when she’s pregnant. 1 or 1 year old girls have a lot of problems. There’s no one to support them, so these Girls lose their babies and more. “
Kenya is one of the countries with the highest incidence of teenage pregnancies in Africa. According to health experts, the situation was exacerbated during the Corona epidemic because women were forced to become sex workers for a living and girls were also affected when the school system was shut down.
Prudence Mutiso, a human rights lawyer in Kenya, specializes in child protection and reproductive rights. He said, “I’ve heard a lot of stories about the situation of women and girls. Young women come to the cities to look for work, then come into relationships with men, get pregnant and lose the father of the child.”
Corona exacerbates the problem
According to Prudence Mutiso, “If the child is not a father to the living system, then these women and girls should look for opportunities for income. In search of these ways, they start bargaining for their child. They don’t openly admit it, but it’s happening. “
Adama hid her pregnancy at the construction site until she was unable to lift the bag of cement. After that, they didn’t work, but had to pay rent every month. For three months, the landlord showed tenderness, but then Adam was kicked out of the house. Adama, who is eight months pregnant, would go to bed at night and leave in the morning. Adama recalls, “When the day was good, food was available. Otherwise I would have slept only by drinking water and praying.”
Like Adama in Kenya, women in distress are often trafficked. In Kenya, abortion is illegal unless the baby is in danger or the mother’s life needs to be saved. Because of this, recognized dangerous alternatives exist without. In addition, there is a lack of awareness about sexual health and reproductive health issues in rural Kenya. There is little awareness of the legal adoption process.
Ibrahim Ali, co-ordinator of the Keratya Charitable Health Poverty Act, said: “There is no government assistance program for women and girls after an unprotected pregnancy. Such women are considered shameful. They are tortured in rural areas. .
Expectation or smuggling trap
Adama did not know what options were available to keep the child safe or had no knowledge of the adoption process. He said, “I have no idea about it. I’ve never heard of it.” At first, Adama thought of having an illegal abortion, but it did not work out, and then she committed suicide.
Adama said, “I was very stressed. I started thinking about how to commit suicide so that people would forget about me.” But a few weeks before the baby was born, someone invited Adam to visit Mary. Ima urged Adama to abandon the idea of having an abortion or committing suicide. Ima illegally runs a road clinic in Kayol, a settlement in Nairobi. He gave her 100 shillings and asked her to come to the clinic on the appointed day.
My Yuma’s clinic is not really a clinic. This is a two-room arrangement at the back of the Coyle Street store, where old empty containers or medicine bottles are kept. After this, the women give birth in the room. Emma lives here with her colleagues and sells children for a small profit, they don’t care who buys the baby or why.
Ima tells Adama that the loving husband who bought the baby is a wife who cannot give birth to her child and they have been waiting for the baby for a long time. But in reality, Emma sold the baby to the man on the street who brought the right price.
Ima tells the pregnant woman that she has become a nurse, but she has no medical equipment, no expertise, and no information on how to keep the baby clean. Adama recalls, “Her face was dirty. She was using a small container for blood. There was no basin. The bed wasn’t clean either. But I had no choice.” “I was disappointed.”
BBC Undercover Reporter
When Adama arrived at the clinic, Mary Euma shot him twice. It was a painkiller. Mary Ima had a line of buyers and was a little worried about it. But when Adama gave birth, she had some problems with her breasts and needed immediate care, so she told him to take her to the hospital.
A week later, Adama was released from the hospital with a healthy baby. The landlord, who kicked Adama out of the house, agreed to keep Adama again. She also began caring for Adama’s baby. Shortly afterwards, Adama visited Mary Yuma again. Ima again gave Adama 100 shillings and asked her to come to the clinic the next day.
Emma sent a text message to the baby buyer, “A new package has been born.” Another message sent, “000 45000k”
My mother was not giving any 45,000 shillings, that is, 30,000 pounds (about thirty thousand rupees) to Adama. She was asking the buyer for the money. He offered to pay Adama a third, or 70 700 (less than seven thousand rupees). My mother did not know that the buyer of the child was a covert journalist working for a BBC series who would investigate the issue of child trafficking for a year.
The next day, when Adama came to the care taker’s clinic, she was sitting in the back room, holding her baby in her arms. At the same time, in a confidential conversation, the alleged buyer told Adama about other options and Adama changed his mind. She adopted her child and went out of the clinic and took him to a government children’s home. Until someone adopts that child, they will be cared for there.
The BBC tried to get Mary Ima to comment on the allegations in the story, but she declined to comment.
Shoe shop dream
Adama is now 2 years old. She now lives in the same village where she spent her childhood. Many more nights they have to starve, life is hard even today. Adama does casual work at a nearby hotel, but that’s not enough. She tries not to drink alcohol. Adama wants to open a shoe store in his village where he can bring and sell shoes from Nairobi.
But it is not so easy. Adama’s son has no contact, but he has no regrets. He said, “I was happy to sell my baby. I wanted to touch that money. But if I didn’t have the money to leave, I would be fine.”
However, Adama knows the area around the children’s home well. This baby’s home is close to the same house where she was evacuated during her pregnancy, shortly before the baby was born. “I know the area is safe and the people who take care of it are good,” Adama said.
(Njeri Mwangi reports together for this report, pictures taken by Tony Omondi for the BBC)