- Joel Gunter
- The BBC came to Africa
Last month, BBC Africa uncovered an illegal market for the sale and purchase of children in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Police arrested seven people on smuggling charges after the news broke. But apart from smugglers, there are mothers of children on the other side in such illegal buying and selling, what is their status, what are the reasons why a mother is willing to sell her child at just 70?
Adama says life was easier when he had parents. Although the money was low there was not much choice, but things were organized to some extent. She went to school, had no problem eating. Worry was low. When Adama was 12 years old, his father died and his mother died a few years later.
“Life has been very difficult since then,” says Adama, in rural Kenya. I have to leave school and make a living. ”
At age 22, Adama met a man and became pregnant. Adama gave birth to a daughter, but the boy’s father died just three days later.
Adama raised the girl in a way. But after 18 months, both needed income to survive. Adama left his son with his old grandmother and moved to Nairobi in search of work.
Then her elderly grandmother told Adam, “Take care that you are looking for work for your child’s life.”
Looking for work
After arriving in Nairobi, Adama started selling watermelons on the streets, but he was not making much money. She stole whatever money she brought home with her. The challenges in life were more in the city. Adam has a bruise on his forehead that was applied during self-defense. Adama said of the sign, “Some people were harassing me. When the case went beyond the limits, I had to face them to defend them.”
After that, Adama started working on a construction site, where she had no salary. After that she reached the nightclub. Adama requested the boss to send her directly to Nani in Pagar village. A few days later, she rented a house to live in so she started keeping some money with her. 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 Adam about the boy’s wish.
Adama put a condition in front of the man and said that if he brought his daughter from the village to take her, they could do the same with their son. That person agreed. For five months after Adama became pregnant, the man paid rent and bills and brought food and supplies into the house. Adama was waiting for the right time to bring his daughter to the city, and one day the man disappeared and never returned.
When there is no place to eat for yourself, the anxiety of giving birth to a child in such a situation, many women can experience it. However, in such a situation one should consider selling his child to an unknown person. But for some mothers living in extreme poverty in Kenya, selling their child to traffickers is one of the few options to escape.
Buying a small amount of kids
The traffickers pay a nominal amount in exchange for these children. Sarah was only 17 when she became pregnant for the second time. He did not have the means to feed the child. He sold his child to a woman who paid 3,000 Kenyan shillings, or less than 2,000 rupees.
Sarah said, “I was very young at the time. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. Five years later I was in pain. I wanted to get that woman’s money back.”
Many women who sell their children for such money know all about it. He said, “Many girls sell their child because of difficult challenges. Maybe her mother abused her and she has nothing or she is still in school when she is pregnant. 1 or 1 year old girls have a lot of problems. No one will support them, so these girls Lose your child and much more. “
Kenya has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Africa. According to health experts, the situation is exacerbated during the Corona outbreak, as women are forced to become sex workers in order to survive, and the closure of the school system has also affected girls.
Prudence Mutiso, a Kenyan human rights lawyer, is an expert on child protection and reproductive rights. He said, “I have heard many stories of women and young women in such situations. Young women come to the city in search of work, then come into contact with men, get pregnant and then the father of the child disappears.”
The corona exacerbates the problem
According to Prudence Mutiso, “If there are no children in the living system, these women and girls will have to find a way to earn a living. In search of these ways, they will start bargaining for their child. They also need money to feed themselves and their first child.” People don’t accept it openly, but it’s happening. “
Adama hid her at the place of conception until she was unable to pick up the bag of cement. After that, they had no work, but had to pay monthly rent. For three months, the owner of the house showed leniency, but Adam was thrown out. Adama, who was eight months pregnant, used to go to bed at night and leave in the morning. Adama recalls, “When the day was good, food was available. Otherwise I would have just slept drinking water and praying.”
Like Adama in Kenya, troubled women reach out to traffickers for a number of reasons. In Kenya, it is illegal to have an abortion if the child is not in danger or if it is not necessary to save the mother’s life. Because of this, dangerous alternatives exist without being identified. In addition, there is a great lack of awareness in rural Kenya about sexual health and reproductive health issues. There is less awareness about the process of adopting a child legally.
Ibrahim Ali, co-ordinator of the Keratya Charette Health Poverty Action, said, “There is no government assistance program for women and girls after unsubsidised pregnancies. Such women are considered stigmatized. They are persecuted in rural areas. Get stuck. “
Expectation or smuggling trap
Adama did not know what options were available to keep the child safe or the adoption process. He said, “I have no idea about it. I’ve never heard of it.” Initially, Adama thought of having an illegal abortion, but the idea did not stand up to his beliefs, and the idea of committing suicide followed.
Adama said, “I was very stressed. I started thinking about how to commit suicide so people would forget about me.” But a few weeks before the baby was born, Adam visited Mary Euma. Yuma asked to give up the idea of having an abortion or committing suicide. Ima illegally runs a path clinic in Kayol, a slum in Nairobi. He gave Adama 100 shillings and asked her to come to the clinic on the appointed day.
Mary Yuma’s clinic is not really a clinic. Behind the shop on Kyle Street is a two-room arrangement with old empty containers or medicine bottles. After that, the women give birth in the room. Ima sits here with her helpers and sells the children for a small profit, no matter who buys the child and why.
Ima told Adama that the loving husband who bought the child is a wife who cannot give birth to her child and is waiting for the child. But in reality, Emu sold the boy to a man on the street who brought a fair price.
Ima tells the pregnant woman that she was a nurse but she did not have medical equipment, nor did she have any skills, nor did she know anything about hygiene at the time of childbirth. Adama recalls, “She had a very dirty place, she was using a small container for blood, there was no cistern. The bed wasn’t clean either. But I had no other choice.” I was desperate. “
BBC Undercover Reporter
When Adama arrived at the clinic, Mary Yuma gave him two pills to eat without warning. It was a painkiller. Mary Yuma had a line of buyers and was also a little curious about it. But when Adam gave birth to a child, some problems arose in his chest and he needed immediate care, so Ima asked to take the child to the hospital.
A week later, Adam came out of the hospital with a healthy baby. The landlord who evicted Adam agreed to keep Adam again. She, too, began to take care of Adam’s son. Shortly thereafter, Adama reached Mary Ima again. Ima again gave Adam 100 shillings and asked him to come to the clinic the next day.
Ima sent a new text message to the child’s buyer, “A new package has been born.” Another message sent, “45000k”
Mary Yuma paid Adama no more than 45,000 shillings, or 300 pounds. She was asking the buyer for the amount. He offered Adama a third, 70 pounds (less than seven thousand rupees). Little did Yuma know that the boy’s buyer was an intelligence journalist working on a BBC series that would investigate child trafficking throughout the year.
The next day, when Adama came to the care taker’s clinic, she sat in the back room and began to hold her baby in her arms. At the same time, in a secret conversation, the accused buyer told Adama about other options and Adama reversed his decision. She walked out of the adoption clinic and took her to a government kindergarten. As long as no one adopts the child, they will be cared for there.
The BBC tried to get Mary Ima to respond to the allegations in the story, but she declined to comment.
The dream of a shoe shop
Adama is now 29 years old. She now lives in the same village where she spent her childhood. They are still sleeping hungry for many nights, it is difficult to live even today. Adama gets occasional work at a nearby hotel, but that’s not enough. She tries not to drink. Adama wants to start a shoe store in his village where he can bring and sell shoes from Nairobi.
But it’s not that simple. Adam has no contact with his son, but he has no regrets. He said, “I was not happy to sell my son. I didn’t want to touch that money either. But I didn’t have the money to give it up, so I felt better.”
However, Adama is well aware of the area around the kindergarten. This children’s home was close to the same house where they had been taken down during pregnancy shortly before the baby was born. “I know the area is safe and the people who take care of it are also good,” Adama said.
(Reporting by Njeri Mwangi together for this report, photographs taken by Tony Omondi for the BBC)