Bribery starts at childbirth, when a mother who makes $1 a day has to pay $12 to see her newborn
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.
The grand thefts of rulers may be more infamous, but the bitter experience of petty corruption, less apparent but no less invidious, is an everyday trial for millions of poor people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Increasingly, it is being recognized as a major obstacle to economic development, robbing the impoverished of already measly incomes and corroding the public services they desperately need. More here.