A testament to the devaluation of human life and the total erosion of our values as a nation is the absurdity of baby factories. If there was any instance that we have lost it as a nation and that our loss was collective as a people it was in the abnormal behavior of harvesting new born children in order to sell them for profit.
These days prime news on television are swamped by the discovery of these factories scattered across Nigeria with the features of heart wrenching stories from the girls and bucketful of crocodile tears from the matrons in charge of these acts of barbarity. One of the most prominent of these cases was that of the The Cross Foundation when in June 2011 thirty two pregnant girls were rescued in Abia State, the Cross Foundation had disguised as a medical facility until it was discovered to be a baby farm.
The factories operate on a circuit board of greed and profit, while playing on the emotions of those who can’t conceive, it is a mixed bag of extortion, kidnapping, enslavement and sexual exploitation. The matrons usually set up a home that doubles as a medical shack and hostel to the girls and their care givers. There, the girls either by being abducted, or cajoled there by deceitful means are impregnated by a male accomplice of the matron or the owner of the house. Some of the victims of this illicit trade have been known to willingly be part of this unwholesome act for a fee. Afterwards they stay the course of a full term of pregnancy, during which they are denied the basic care and are still subjected to the grueling tasks that women in such conditions shouldn’t be undertaking. Worse still is the poor diet that the girls are made to eat. In fact the emotional scars suffered by the girls, even for those who willingly joined in for profit it is better imagined than experienced.
But perhaps the hardest part of the waiting game till harvest time is the restriction of movement, the girls are held in secluded places that they can’t go anywhere – they are enslaved until the safely deliver the baby. During this period there is already a waiting list of clients, on standby to receive fresh new babies to pass it off as their own. In some instances the girls remunerated with between N70,000 to N100,000 while the commercial rates for the babies is usually reserved for the highest bidders starting from N300,000 and goes up to 1.5 Million Naira.
But how did we get here? We got here by our insatiable greed, by our resolve to be rich at all cost, to be owners of the latest cars, to build imposing houses, to stand out and be the envy of the pack. How did we get here? We got here by the societal peer pressure to bring forth a child into this world, indeed it is an indescribable thing of joy to sire a child, the feeling of holding one’s bundle of joy can be equated with very few things, however it must be said that not all have this fortune. It is the latter that breeds the need to buy babies and eventually this has brought the demand and supply component of this illicit trade. The desperation from couples and the peer and societal pressure they face forces them to demand for new babies instead of taking the adoption route.
In reducing this debacle, communities must team up with security agents and report any such suspicious enclaves that habour people kept against their will. Most importantly, adoption laws must be made less stringent in Nigeria, so that families desirous of adopting babies can do so without the needed hassles that currently comes with the terrain, an efficient social service monitoring system will go a long way in ensuring that adoption laws are not subject to abuse.
The illicit trade of trafficking in humans in Nigeria has reached alarming proportions with a myriad of global organizations joining the fight, now the attention of illicit trade has turned to baby farms –all men and women of good conscience and good will must rise and ensure that this ugly trend is reversed. A child should not start life as a commercial bundle, but remain a bundle of joy.
Alkasim Abdulkadir is a multi-media journalist, he has worked as a Producer for BBC Media Action and as a news contributor for CNN, Aljazeera, France 24 and Guardian UK. He is Contributing Editor at The Trent.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.