Ugandan women are being left with babies fathered by Chinese men who had been working on infrastructure projects in the African nation.
The women, often from poor families, are now demanding compensation to cover costs of raising their babies, according to The Washington Times.
One of them is 26-year-old Esther Musisi, who told the outlet how much she trusted the father of her one-year-old daughter.
“I trusted him with all my heart.
“I can’t believe what he did to me. He promised me that he was going to China for a month and would come back so that we can take care of our baby together. I was six months pregnant when he left the country.”
Another is 20-year-old Jacqueline Adero, who met a Chinese man named Yahang while she was looking for a job in 2015. She was five months pregnant when he abandoned her.
Chinese companies have been investing in Uganda’s infrastructure in recent years. This led to the deployment of some 50,000 Chinese workers tasked to build projects.
James Okumu, a tribal chief in the district of Kiryandongo, knows at least 50 children fathered by Chinese men who worked at the Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station, set to be the largest power-generating installation in the country.
Speaking to the Washington Times, Okumu blamed poverty as the root of false hopes:
“Poverty is the problem. The Chinese are taking advantage of the situation to spoil our girls because they know our girls need money to take care of their poor families.
“Chinese men do not come with their women to African countries while working on major infrastructure projects. So they are forced to seek local women to fulfill their sexual desires. They buy sex from these women.”
Other than sex, Chinese men have also been engaging in fake marriages to acquire Ugandan citizenship that would allow them to run businesses as Ugandan citizens. The country’s immigration officials have since expressed concerns over increasing Chinese-Ugandan couples.
According to Quartz, couples are usually interviewed before spousal status is granted, while Chinese men involved in bogus marriages are deported. One official told a parliamentary committee last year (via engaging in fake marriages):
“But we have many who are marrying and even producing… Even our Ugandan women are accepting to [reproduce] with these men.”
The fate of the abandoned Ugandan mothers is unclear. For one, Dr. Richard Nam, prime minister of Uganda’s Lango Cultural Foundation, plans to negotiate with Sinohydro Construction Company, employer of workers at the Karuma project.
Dr. Nam told the Daily Monitor:
“It is our culture that once you impregnate our daughter and decline to marry her, you pay compensation for damages and upkeep of your offspring. This is what we want to make clear to them when we engage them in negotiations.
“They [Chinese] should help these poor girls to raise these children. We shall sit and negotiate with them, but when this fails, legal measures will be taken.”