Gov’t to probe child trafficking syndicate after BBC exposé ‘The Baby Stealers’
- The going-rate in Nairobi to steal a child from a woman is roughly Ksh. 50,000 for a girl or Ksh. 80,000 for a boy.
- The driving force behind the black market is a persistent cultural stigma around infertility.
- There are no reliable statistics on child trafficking in Kenya – no government reports, no comprehensive national surveys.
The government has set up a multi-agency to probe child trafficking syndicate exposed by ‘The Baby Stealers‘ BBC Africa Eye documentary.
Labour and Social Services CS Simon Chelugui said the investigation is at a preliminary stage to establish all the networks behind the syndicate.
Also Read: Buying a baby on Nairobi’s black market
“Following this expose, a team of officers and experts from the relevant government agencies has been constituted to exhaustively investigate and take the necessary action. As the Government of Kenya, we do not condone child trafficking and we will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this issue,” he said during a Press briefing on Tuesday.
The Labour CS sought to assure Kenyans that health facilities across the country are secure and safe for mothers and children.
He further urged the public to report any case involving child trafficking to Child Helpline 116, the police or relevant government agencies.
“The Government of Kenya is committed to the safety and security of all children and would like to inform Kenyans that if for one reason or the other, they may not have children of their own, that there are legal procedures for adopting,” the CS added.
The expose by the BBC’s Africa Eye revealed that vulnerable women are being preyed on in Nairobi to feed a thriving black market for babies.
Over the course of a year-long investigation, Africa Eye found evidence of children being snatched from homeless mothers and sold for massive profits.
The team uncovered illegal child trafficking in street clinics and babies being stolen to order at a major government-run hospital.
Worse still, Africa Eye said they were able to purchase an abandoned child from a hospital official, who used legitimate paperwork to take custody of a two-week old boy before selling him directly to the team.
The baby stealers are reported to range from vulnerable opportunists to organized criminals – often both elements working together.
Among the opportunists are women like Anita, a heavy drinker and drug user who lives herself on and off the street, and makes money stealing children– targeting mothers with infants under the age of three.
The going-rate in Nairobi to steal a child from a woman is roughly Ksh. 50,000 for a girl or Ksh. 80,000 for a boy.
There are no reliable statistics on child trafficking in Kenya – no government reports, no comprehensive national surveys.
According to BBC’s Africa Eye, the agencies responsible for finding missing children and tracking the black market are under-resourced and under-staffed.
One of the few safeguards for mothers whose children are taken is Missing Child Kenya, an NGO founded and run by Maryana Munyendo.
In its four years in operation, the organisation has worked on about 600 cases, Munyendo said.
“This is a very big issue in Kenya but it is underreported. At Missing Child Kenya we have barely scratched the surface,” she said.
The driving force behind the black market is a persistent cultural stigma around infertility.
“Infertility is not a good thing for a woman in an African marriage,” Munyendo said.
“You are expected to have a child and it should be a boy. If you can’t, you might get kicked out of your home. So what do you do? You steal a child,” she added.
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