The sight of young women begging with extended bowls or rocking babies in their arms is common in the city. The question is, where are the babies’ fathers?
Take Naomi Njeri for instance. She is from Kabete on the outskirts of Nairobi. Her parents separated when she was just 10. The 20- year-old begs along Aga Khan Walk.
“I’ve been begging on the streets for more than three years. I do this to feed myself and my child,” she says.
Asked about the father of the child, she says: “It happened two years ago. A man who used to give me money started asking me for sexual favours. I knew him as Ben and he lived in Nairobi’s South B.” She claims that the man even bought her new clothes.
For more than three months, she became a constant visitor to his house.
“Things changed when I became pregnant. He threw me out of his house and disappeared into thin air. I had to go back to the streets,” says the sad-looking Njeri.
Njeri says she gave birth last year at a county dispensary along Race Course Road.
“I could not trace Ben who moved to another neighbourhood and even changed his contacts,” she adds.
Njeri now lives with a friend in Eastleigh and has to report to her ‘base’ from where she makes less than Sh100 a day from well-wishers. Men still make sexual advances on her “in exchange for money,” she says, “but it’s hard to trust anyone now.”
Her case is not an isolated one. Mary Muthoni who hails from Laikipia has been subjected to the same experience. She came to Nairobi with two kids after separating from her husband. The middle-aged mother begs along Tom Mboya Street.
“At the moment, I stay in a rented house in Kariobangi. I show up here every evening to get something for my two children,” she says, adding that, “Sometimes we are arrested by City County askaris who forcefully demand sex. It happened last year.”
She reveals that at times she is forced to lie that she has a deadly and contagious disease to ward off sex pests.
Mercy Baraza who is based around the Kencom bus stop says she was put in the family way by a hawker who used to give her lots of cash, food and other goodies.
The 19-year- old mother of a nine-month-old baby girl says: “I’m not a full-time beggar. I am actually a mama nguo in Kayole. I started begging on the streets at the age of 15 when my aunt whom I lived with died.”
Mercy recalls that during her begging, “I met a youthful hawker and we started going out because he used to give me money. But he left me when I gave birth at a clinic in Kayole. I don’t know where he is now. It’s been almost a year.”
Security guards have also been accused of putting beggars in the family way. One such guard has been accused of impregnating a mentally ill woman around the OTC area in downtown Nairobi.
Sleeping with beggars is criminal - Lawyer
“Men who sleep with or impregnate beggars and mentally ill women suffer from low self-esteem,” says city psychologist, James Kimani. He says that such men lack the confidence to face regular women.
Criminal lawyer, Samuel Ayora, warns that sleeping with beggars and the mentally ill can lead to criminal charges being preferred against offenders.
“Most of these cases happen under the cover of darkness, but if the women can identify the culprits, they could face rape and other serious charges. And if a child was conceived as a consequence, a DNA test can be conducted