Local councils and national welfare groups in Venezuela have confirmed an increase in parents giving away their children due to the economic crisis ravaging the country.
Three local councils and four national welfare groups have said that parents were handing over children to the state, charities, or friends and family, Reuters reports.
There is little information on how many parents are giving away their children, as the government does not release that information and welfare groups are struggling to compile statistics on the growing trend.
The average wage in the country is less than the equivalent of $50 a month at black market rates. Basic food supplies like milk, butter, vegetable oil, and flour are increasingly difficult to come by, with between 8 and 15 percent of the nation feeding themselves by scrounging through the waste produced by local markets.
Venezuelan mother Zulay Pulgar had to give her 6-year-old daughter to her neighbor because the family could not afford to care for all seven children on her father’s $6 a month pension at the black market rate.
“It’s better that she has another family than go into prostitution, drugs or die of hunger,” the 43-year-old unemployed mother said, whose husband is also unemployed.
In some cases, parents are abandoning their children altogether.
Reuters reports that a baby boy was found inside a bag in a wealthy area of Caracas and a malnourished 1-year-old boy was found in a cardboard box in Ciudad Guyana.
Venezuelans are not only giving away their children or abandoning them, they are also selling their hair for as little as $20 a head.