How morally bankrupt do you have to be to raise a child you know was stolen?

By Nina Steele 

InfertilitySome stories are very disturbing. Yet they need the spotlight shone on them in order to force change. The BBC has published an investigation it has done regarding babies in Kenya being stolen from their mothers and sold on the black market. The women the babies are stolen from, are often poor, homeless women. Because they are at the bottom of the social ladder, the perpetrators know that the authorities are unlikely to investigate, and sadly, that is exactly how most of the stories play out.

In addition to these stories being desperately sad, that some government officials are profiting from it, makes it even more serious. In the article published on the BBC website entitled: “Buying a baby on Nairobi’s black market”, the investigative team uncovered evidence of this in the form of a clinical social worker who sold them a baby boy. They reported him to the hospital management. Yet nothing was done. He kept his job!

Africans obsession with having children is of course what lies behind this despicable trade. Since infertility is a taboo subject, some of the people who cannot have children, are willing to do anything to produce a child that they can then pass off as their own. The founder of an NGO set up to help women whose children are stolen, said this: “Infertility is not a good thing for a woman in an African marriage. 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”.

It’s not just stolen babies that the BBC investigation has uncovered. Just like in Nigeria, ‘baby factories’ are becoming a thing in Kenya too. Poor women who get pregnant are paid to give their children up. Once again, this is fuelled by a culture where not being able to conceive has been made into something to be ashamed of.

When are the majority of people on the continent going to wake up to the fact that having a child is not everything? Some people are waking up to this fact, but there are still far too few of them to make a real difference. Considering the seriousness of this issue, I blame the governments on the continent for their inaction. They should be educating their people about infertility, so as to lift the stigma around it. As long as being infertile is viewed as something to be ashamed of, these stories will sadly keep appearing.

Now that the BBC has exposed what is going on, I hope it forces the Kenyan government to act. This is one of those times when social media really is a force for good. A link to the article was all over my Facebook feed, garnering thousands of comments and shares. With almost 2 billion active daily users on Facebook alone, the story would have been viewed by millions of people worldwide by now and counting. If there is one thing leaders in African countries dislike, it is their internal affairs being the talk of the Internet. The Kenyan government can no longer turn a blind eye on this issue.

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