Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her chest, the maternity hospital’s ritual of extortion began.
Before she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant away and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child, families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day. The practice is common here in the city, surveys confirm.
Mrs. Velankanni was penniless, and her mother-in-law had to pawn gold earrings that had been a precious marriage gift so she could give the money to the attendant, or ayah. Mrs. Velankanni, a migrant to Bangalore who had been unprepared for the demand, wept in frustration.
“The ayah told my mother-in-law to pay up fast because the night duty doctor was leaving at 8 a.m. and wanted a share,” she recalled.
Cynic that I am, I could actually imagine a man whisking a kid away and demanding a bribe. When a woman (who may have children of her own) does it, all hope seems lost. The article goes on to describe the fact that this sort of corruption has infected basic services that stretch from the cradle to the grave. The following quote also caught my eye because it sounds like a thing you sometimes hear about the U.S. healthcare system:
“The poor not only are paying much more of their incomes to get the same medical services as the middle and richer classes, but they are also discouraged from seeking basic medical care because they can’t afford it,” said Daniel Kaufmann, director of global programs at the institute.