- Joel Gunter
- BBC Africa came
Last month, BBC Africa IA exposed the 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 mothers of children on the other hand besides smugglers are also sold such illegal purchases, what is their status? What are the reasons where a mother agrees to sell her child for only 70?
Adama says life was easy when there were parents. Although there was less money, there was not much choice, but things were somewhat arranged. She went to school, had no problem eating or drinking. Anxiety was low. When Adama was 12, his father died and his mother died a few years later.
“Life became very difficult after that. I had to leave school and make a living,” says Adama, from his village in western Kenya.
At age 22, Adama met a man and became pregnant. Adama gave birth to a daughter, but the baby’s father died just three days later.
Adama somehow raised the girl. But after 18 months, both needed income to live. Adama arrived in Nairobi in search of work, leaving her baby with her great-grandmother.
Then his elderly grandmother told Adama, “Be careful that you go in search of a job for your child’s life.”
Looking for work
Adama started selling watermelons on the streets after arriving in Nairobi, but he was not making much money. She stole whatever money she brought home with her. The challenges in life were much greater in the city. Adama has a bruise on his forehead that was applied during self-defense. Regarding the target, Adama said, “Some people were flirting. When the matter went beyond the limits, I had to face them for self-defense.”
After this, Adama started working on a construction site, where he received no wages. After this she reached the nightclub. Adama requested the boss to send him straight to Nani in Paana village. A few days later, she started having some money so she could rent a house to live in. A few days later, with a few good salaries, 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 placed a bet in front of the man and said that if he took his daughter to fetch him from the village, they could both do the same to their child. The man agreed. Five months after Adama became pregnant, the man paid the house rent and bills, bringing food and food home. Adama was waiting for the right time to bring her daughter to the city and one day the man disappeared and did not return.
When there is no place for you to eat, in such a situation, the anxiety of giving birth to a child, many women can experience it. However, in such a situation one should hardly consider selling one’s child to a stranger. But for some mothers living in extreme poverty in Kenya, selling your child to traffickers is one of the few survival options.
Buying and selling small quantities of children
The traffickers pay a paltry sum in exchange for these children. Sara was only 17 when she became pregnant for the second time. She did not have the means to feed the baby. He sold his child to a woman who offered 1,000,000 Kenyan shillings, or less than 2,000 rupees.
Sara said, “I was very young at the time. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong. Five years later I started to feel bad. I wanted to give the woman her money back.”
Many women who sell their children for such money know all about it. She said, “Many girls sell their baby because of difficult challenges. Maybe she is being bullied by her mother and she has nothing or she is still in school while pregnant. Girls aged 15 or 16 have a lot of problems. No one, so these girls lose their baby and so much more. “
Kenya is one of the countries with the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Africa. According to health experts, the situation has worsened during the Koro epidemic, as women have been forced to become sex workers for a living, and young women have also been affected by the closure of the school system.
Prudence Mutiso, a human rights lawyer in Kenya, specializes in child protection and reproductive rights. He said, “I have heard many stories of women and young women in such situations. Young women come to cities in search of work, then have sex with men, get pregnant and then the father of the child disappears.”
Exacerbates the problem of corona
According to the sensible Mutiso, “If the child is not the father of the way of life, then these women and girls have to find ways to earn a living. In search of these ways, they start bargaining for their child. They also need money from them so that they They can feed their first child. People don’t accept it openly, but it’s happening. “
Adama hid her pregnancy at the construction site until her inability to lift bags of cement began. After this, they had no work, but had to pay rent every month. For three months, the landlord showed leniency but then Adama was thrown out of the house. Adama, who is eight months pregnant, slept there at night and went to bed in the morning. Adama recalls, “When the day was good, there was food. Otherwise I would just go to bed drinking water and praying.”
Troubled women like Adama of Kenya reach out to smugglers for many reasons. In Kenya, it is illegal to have an abortion unless the baby is safe or necessary to save the mother’s life. Because of this, only valid hazardous alternatives exist. Apart from this, there is a great lack of awareness about sexual health and reproductive health issues in rural Kenya. There is little awareness about the legal adoption process.
“There is no government support program for women and girls after unwanted pregnancies. Such women are considered stigmatized. They are harassed in rural areas,” said Ibrahim Ali, convener of Carat Health’s Poverty Action in Carat. They definitely get out of there and reach the cities, but they get caught up in the difficult challenges there. “
Expectation or smuggling trap
Adama did not know what options were available to keep the child safe or had any information about the adoption process. He said, “I have no idea about this. I had never heard of it.” Initially, Adama thought about having an abortion illegally, but the idea did not work against her faith and then the idea of suicide came to her mind.
Adama said, “I was very stressed. I started thinking about how to commit suicide so that people would forget me.” But just a few weeks before the baby was born, someone made Adama meet Mary Yuma. Yuma has told Adama to give up the idea of abortion or suicide. Iru runs a street clinic illegally in the slums of Nairobi. He gave Adama 100 shillings and asked him to come to the clinic on the appointed day.
Mary Yuma’s clinic is not really a clinic. It has two rooms at the back of a shop on Cool Street, with old empty containers or bottles of medicines. After this, the women give birth in the room. Ima sits here with her assistants and sells the children for less profit, not caring who they are and why they are buying the baby.
Ima told Adama that the loving husband who bought the baby is a wife who cannot bear her baby and they have been waiting for the baby for a long time. But in reality, Ima sold the baby to the man on the street, who brought the right price.
Yuma tells pregnant women that she was a nurse but did not have any medical equipment, nor did she have any skills, nor did she have any knowledge of maintaining hygiene during childbirth. Adama recalls, “She had a very dirty place, she used a small container for blood, there was no basin. The bed wasn’t even clean. But I had no other choice. I was desperate.”
BBC Undercover Reporter
When Adama arrived at the clinic, Mary Yuma gave him two pills without warning. It was a painkiller. Mary Yuma had a line of buyers and was also a little curious about it. But when Adama gave birth the baby had some problems in her chest and needed immediate care, so Yuma told Adama to take the baby to the hospital.
A week later, Adama was taken out of the hospital with a healthy baby. The landlord who drove Adama out of the house agreed to keep Adama again. She also started caring for Adama’s baby. Shortly after this, Adama reached Mary Yuma again. Ima again gave Adama 100 shillings and asked him to come to the clinic the next day.
Ima sent a text message to the baby buyer, “A new package has been born.” Send another message, “45000k”
Mary Yuma did not give any 45 thousand shillings i.e. 300 pounds (about thirty thousand rupees) to Adama. She demanded this amount from the buyer. He offered to pay Adama a third, i.e. 70 70 (less than seven thousand rupees). Mary Ima did not know that the child buyer was a secret reporter working on a BBC series that would investigate child abuse issues throughout the year.
The next day when Adama arrived at the caretaker clinic he sat in the back room and began to wave the baby in his arms. At the same time, in a secret conversation, the alleged buyer told Adama about other options and Adama changed his mind. She went out of the clinic to adopt her child and took him to a government children’s home. They will be cared for until someone adopts the child.
The BBC tried to get Mary Yuma to respond to the story’s allegations, but she declined to comment.
The dream of a shoe store
Adama is now 29 years old. He now lives in the same village where he spent his childhood. Still many nights they have to sleep hungry, even today life remains difficult. Adama gets casual work at a nearby hotel, but that’s not enough. She tries not to drink. Adama wants to open a shoe store in his village where he can bring and sell shoes from Nairobi.
But it’s not that simple. Adama has no contact with the son, but he has no regrets. He said, “I wasn’t happy selling my baby. I didn’t even want to touch that money. But there was no money left, then I felt better.”
However, Adama is well aware of the area around the Children’s Home. This children’s home is close to the same house where it was evacuated shortly before the baby was born during pregnancy. “I know the area is safe and the people who take care of it are good,” Adama said.
(With pictures taken by Tony Omondi for BJC, Nejeri Mwangi reports together for this report)