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Scandal of children hired as beggars and hawkers

Children are being forced to become hawkers and beggars by their parents on city streets.

The hawkers normally ‘hire’ the children for between Sh100 and Sh200 in a bid to escape the county askaris’ dragnet.

A hawker on Tom Mboya Street who only identified herself as Wangui said she avoided being arrested by strapping a child to her back as she sold her wares.

Beggars too have discovered that having a child around elicits more sympathy from passers-by.

Children between two and four years old are usually the ones used by hawkers while beggars bring children from as young as a few months old to about 10-years-old.

A seven-year-old girl that NairobiNews  found on Tom Mboya Street  in the evening  said what she got from begging supplemented what her mother got from hawking on the same street.

The Nairobi County Inspectorate Director, Mr Hillary Wambugu said   dealing with hawkers carrying children was a big challenge.

“These women are using the children as shields. They want to escape from the askaris and the law. We cannot make the children sleep in our cells for that is against the law,” he said.

He added that the women break the law by denying the children their right to protection and exposing them to danger on the streets.

He said when they arrest such women, they ask them to suckle the children. Many fail the test.

Eunice Wanja, a street hawker NairobiNews found selling clothes on the streets said she had asked her next door neighbour to let her have her one and a half-year-old son for the day promising to pay, depending on what she made.

According to Charles Ocholla, a Sociologist, these children are exposed to psychological trauma and pressure which may affect their behaviour for years to come.

He expressed fears that if the trend continued, Nairobi’s streets will soon be flooded with hawkers and child beggars.

A legal officer at Cradle Children’s foundation, Mirriam  Wachira, said her organisation was planning to take legal measures against parents, hawkers and beggars exposing children for their personal gain.