THE MENACE OF BABY FACTORIES
The illicit trade in babies by unscrupulous people is becoming a menace to our society
The Delta State Police Command last week arrested two male suspects and rescued three pregnant women from a ‘baby factory’. It is the latest in what has become a scandalous business in human trafficking and associated crimes in Nigeria. In several locations across the country today, mostly in the South, impregnated girls are held captive until they give birth and compelled to give up their babies for varying sums of money per head, depending on the sex. This illicit trade is part of an international ring in human slavery and organ trafficking for which our country is becoming increasingly notorious.
Unfortunately, the crime is thriving among some desperate persons who have come to regard it as a business. Members of these syndicates also scout for young and impoverished females with unwanted pregnancies to lure them to many of the so-called homes and orphanages where they are kept until they are delivered of their babies which they then buy. In some cases, young men are brought into the homes to impregnate these girls for fees. By the code of this organised crime, young girls are deliberately impregnated for the purpose of producing children that will be taken away from them. These children are then traded almost like commodities.
Indeed, the United Nations ranks child trafficking as the third most common crime in Nigeria after financial fraud and drug trafficking. At least 10 babies are sold each day in Nigeria, according to the UN that has put the worth of the global child trafficking business at US$33 billion annually. The Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria (ASOHON) once made a commitment to help in combating the growing menace of illegal orphanages and homes in Nigeria. “Our goal is to chart a course for our industry and brainstorm on actionable solutions to problems confronting the association and Nigerian orphans. We hope to bring orphanages across the country together to network and exchange information and ideas that will provide a way forward to the many challenges that abound,” ASOHON had pledged but not much seems to have changed.
We enjoin the authorities and relevant stakeholders to tackle this social menace. Since there is little information in the public domain to ascertain whether any of the past offenders was ever brought to justice, one of the options being recommended is diligent prosecution of operators of illegal homes and orphanages. That would serve as deterrent to those engaged in the nefarious trade. Communities, individuals and other stakeholders could assist by informing security agencies of the growing menace in their neighbourhoods.
We must stress, however, that there are many childless couples who have had, or wish to have, their own babies through the normal process of adoption as allowed by law. And there are genuine orphanages doing wonderful work for the society in this regard. However, as the adoption fad assumes a new level of popularity in Nigeria with the number of potential adopters far exceeding what the legal orphanages could offer, there has been an equal rise in the mushrooming of all manner of motherless babies’ homes. In the process, we now have orphanages, which in a desperate quest for quick money, sell babies, even to known ritualists.
That is why we call on the relevant authorities especially the social welfare departments and ministries of Women Affairs, as well as the NAPTIP, the security agencies and the civil society groups to step up their supervisory and monitoring efforts on these orphanages. The approving authorities should equally raise the standard and ensure that certain minimal conditions are met by would-be operators of orphanages.
We call on the relevant authorities especially the social welfare departments and ministries of Women Affairs, as well as the NAPTIP, the security agencies and the civil society groups to step up their supervisory and monitoring efforts on these orphanages.