In a heart-wrenching incident, a woman in Odisha sold her 10-month-old baby for ₹ 5,000 in Kendrapara district. The woman lost her job during the second wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The infant was rescued by the district child protection office and police on Monday, June 21 and kept in custody of a child care centre.
COVID Impact On Domestic Help
The woman identified as Arundhati Roul of Mahuri within Rajkanika police limits, reportedly sold her infant to a childless couple of nearby village as she was unable to sustain her family in absence of work.
She used to work as a domestic help in houses of several villagers to eke out a living. However, when the second COVID wave struck, her employers asked her to discontinue her service, reported The New Indian Express.
The woman, who also has three other daughters, fell on hard times after losing her job. She was unable to even arrange two square meals a day. The woman's husband deserted her last year following which she came back to her parents' house at Mahuri with her daughters.
In another similar incident, an infant bought by a 42-year-old childless rag picker for ₹10,000 from its parents, also rag pickers, was rescued by the police and a non-profit in Bhubaneswar. The biological parents, who are rag pickers, wanted to sell the baby as they had no money to survive on the streets. The woman who bought the infant on June 14 has been arrested on charges of illegal adoption and buying a child.
Millions Driven Into Poverty
A report by Azim Premji University said that around 23 crore Indians have been pushed into poverty during the past year. It added that the rural poverty rate increased by 15 percentage points and the urban poverty rate was up nearly 20 points.
It also noted that though incomes fell across the board, the pandemic has taken a far heavier toll on poorer households. In April and May, the poorest 20 per cent of households lost their entire incomes.