Uzbek Children for Sale: What Compels Mothers to Part With Their Young Ones?


In Uzbekistan, yet more cases of children being sold have been uncovered by officers of the State Security Service. Law enforcement officers recently detained women trying to sell their children in four cities in Uzbekistan.

A 29-year-old resident of Namangan tried to sell her ten-year-old son for $18,000 and was detained while receiving an advance payment of $4,000. A 31-year-old resident of Termez agreed to sell her newborn daughter for $2,000. She was detained while handing over the baby and receiving the money. A 33-year-old woman from Bukhara region, more recently living in Gulistan, was detained while trying to sell her two-week-old son for $40,000. And in the capital, a 27-year-old woman from Chirchik was detained for trying to sell her six-year-old son for $3,000.

Child trafficking has taken on horrific proportions in recent years in Uzbekistan. According to the World Report on Trafficking in Persons, over the timespan from 2014 to 2020, 380 cases of trafficking in newborns were uncovered here. Year after year, these figures continue to increase. Prices for babies range from $200 to $40,000.

There are several reasons that drive mothers to such drastic measures. The first is the overall plight of the mother. Often they have no way to make a living, have lost their husbands, or already have several older children. Another child becomes an impossible burden for her — which can be eased by earning money to feed, clothe, and house herself and the remaining family members.

There have been cases when children were offered in exchange for an apartment. The weak state system of support for women in difficult life situations puts these mothers in an impossible situation, having to choose between living in poverty or giving their children and themselves a chance to live in better conditions in the future.

Secondly, fear of shame and being publicly ostracized are major factors. Young women and girls who become pregnant for reasons deemed socially unacceptable — as well as victims of rape — experience this. In an attempt to hide the pregnancy and the child, such mothers often temporarily move to another city or region. This can culminate in the mother trying to get rid of the child by selling it far away from their home regions after giving birth.

Furthermore, Uzbekistan has a very complicated bureaucratic system of adoption, which helps drive the black market for the trafficking of newborns and children. Because of this bureaucracy, only a few people manage to take the desired child home from an orphanage. Therefore, childless couples look for a way to get a child directly from a maternity hospital. The mediator in such transactions is often the medical staff, who negotiate all the terms of sale with the biological mother and adoptive parents in advance.

The problem of selling children in Uzbekistan must be addressed comprehensively, experts say. The introduction of sex education lessons in schools is a necessity, as well as the introduction of state programs to support women in need, tougher penalties for selling a child, and changes to the adoption system.


Times of Central Asia