UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre Child Trafficking Research Hub
   Contact usmail   
Internship program


Research project



This sections contains a database of documents on child trafficking. Users can research by title, author, editor/organization, type, topic, keywords, geographic descriptors and year of publication.
 New search

Type of document: News
Topic: Trafficking patterns
Geographic descriptors: Russian Federation
Language: English
Source: www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/TKAE-6X62ZV?OpenDocument
Date of publication: 05 January 2007
Long Abstract: Source: Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)

Date: 05 Jan 2007

Chechnya: Children for sale

Social taboos and economic desperation fuel child trafficking.

By Laila Baisultanova in Grozny

Ten years ago, I glimpsed the problem when I was riding in a taxi through the village of Assinovskaya in Chechnya. I saw six children standing in a line beside a wooden fence. When I wondered why they were standing there, the taxi driver answered, "To be sold."

The driver said that mothers were unable to take care of the children, so they sold them to well-off people. "One girl has already been sold," he said. "She was nice and beautiful with fair hair. They bought her because she was very small. These ones are bigger and no one wants to buy them."

There was no way of verifying what he had to say, but evidence suggests that after a decade of conflict and turmoil in Chechnya, the number of childless families has risen drastically and people are ready to pay large sums to adopt a newborn baby - and frequently to resort to illegal methods to acquire one. The problem is compounded by the fact that Chechen society considers illegitimate birth shameful and there is very little formal adoption. The transactions are extremely secret and good data is hard to come by. However, the Chechen prosecutor's office has registered cases of children having been sold or illegally handed over to assumed adoptive parents.

On November 13 last year, prosecutors filed a case against an alleged criminal group charged with trafficking minors. If convicted, the three accused, all women, will face a sentence of between three and ten years in prison. They deny the charges against them and have been released on bail awaiting trial. The three are suspected of trying to sell a three-month-old girl for three thousand US dollars to an operative from Chechnya's drugs control department, which was carrying out an investigation.

Other cases of child trafficking were reported on last year, including the detention of two women last May accused of trying to sell a newborn boy for 110,000 roubles (4,200 dollars).

The prosecutor's office declined to comment on the details of this alleged crime, but prosecution official Adam Khambiev told IWPR about another case. He said three women had been arrested in Grozny in May last year, the first two accused of handing over a one-month-old girl to the latter in the city's Hospital No. 2. Law enforcement officers found another baby in the apartment of one of the women.

The women are to be charged with abducting a minor and could face a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

An investigator from the prosecutor's office who has worked on this case said that one reason the problem arose was that there is no proper orphanage in Chechnya and unwanted babies were therefore looked after in Grozny's maternity hospital or children's hospital.

"Officials hand over these children to medical facilities under someone's personal responsibility," said the official. "The latter, in their turn, hand them over to people like [the women accused of buying a baby] for further adoption."

According to Elza Kusayeva, government inspector for the protection of the rights of minors, both children are now being looked after by families and awaiting adoption.

Kusayeva said that prospective parents have to go through strict procedures in order to adopt a child. But she said her department was not getting enough information about children who had been rejected and who were available for adoption.

The department received ten applications for the adoption of rejected children in 2006 and began processing three more in November and December. Madina Eldarova, deputy head physician in Chechnya's maternity clinic, explained how many children end up being abandoned.

"Because of our traditional mentality, it is shameful for a single woman to give birth to a child," she said. "As a rule, these women deliver at home. Afterwards, so as not to reject the child officially, they secretly hand it over to someone else or abandon it like rubbish. They sometimes sell them, which is even worse."

Madina Azieva, a Grozny resident, argues that the problem of women being forced to sell their children comes not from low morals but from irresponsible men.

"When a woman who is selling her own child is detained, they should also detain the guilty father," said Azieva. "If he is a man, let him take responsibility for his sins and not just put all the responsibility on the woman."

Laiyla Baisultanova is a correspondent with Chechenskoe Obshchestvo newspaper.

UNICEF Home | Contact us | Copyright | Technical Support ©UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre