The problem with false assumptions is that they are often half truths so unless they are challenged and corrected with facts and superior argument, with time they will be accepted as truths especially to the uninformed/ill-informed minds. It becomes imperative to seek knowledge because knowledge is power; education is light. It eliminates ignorance and clears false assumptions.
Amongst issues that have been trivialized and elevated to ethnic vice in Nigeria is ‘Baby Factory’ – and the falsehood is being championed by those that would have known better but chose to play the ethnic card to divert attention and promote primordial sentiments to justify/support the brazen acts of exclusion, outright injustice and absolute abuse of power by the present Buhari led APC government that one can write, “…don’t mind the southeast/southsouth, the people of Baby Factory” which is pure fallacy – a baseless and senseless stand coming out of skewed mindset.
What is Baby Factory? Why does it exist and thrive as a business, who are involved and why?
To start with, certain terminologies need to be defined, and they include amongst others: baby farming, baby factory/baby farm, child-selling, child harvesting, child laundering, child trafficking and child abuse – and they have one thing in common.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defines baby farming as the act of “taking in and caring after an infant or child for payment” while a baby factory or baby farm is “a location where women are encouraged or forced to become pregnant and give up their newborns for sale.” It mean that while there can be baby farming without a baby factory, there can never be a baby factory without baby farming. However, it should be noted that by whatever means, there is always the mother’s consent here.
Child-selling “is the practice of selling children, usually by parents, close persons, or subsequent masters or custodians. After a sale, when the subsequent relationship with the child is essentially nonexploitative, the usual purpose of child-selling is to permit adoption.” On the other hand, Child harvesting “is the active drafting of parents and children for the adoption market and is particularly associated with and prevalent in some international adoption countries and markets. Typically, a relinquishing family or parent is misled or lied to so they permanently give away the child for adoption without any hope of ever re-connecting with the child.”
Child laundering is “a scheme whereby inter-country adoptions are affected by illegal and fraudulent means. It usually involves the trafficking of children which is usually illegal and may involve the acquisition of children through monetary arrangements, deceit and/or force. The children may then be held in sham orphanages while formal international adoption processes are used to send the children to adoptive parents in another country. Child laundering rings are often expansive with multiple hierarchies of people motivated by large profits from the black markets of intercountry adoptions. With Westerners willing to spend thousands of dollars to adopt a child, enough monetary incentives are created to extend the laundering ring from the middle classes to societies’ more affluent groups. These “baby broker” families subsequently forge a new identity for the laundered child, “validating” the child’s legal status as an orphan and ensuring the scheme will not be uncovered. Child laundering is highly controversial; while many argue that these children are being treated as a commodity and stripped of family contact, others argue that, ultimately, the children will live in a more affluent environment and have more opportunities as a result of this adoption.”
In suggesting possible reasons while baby farming exists, Wikipedia says, “Some poverty-stricken women have stated they voluntarily worked at baby factories, motivated by the prospect of monetary gain.” There are some moral reasons: someone who has illegitimate pregnancy but decides against abortion and entertains fear of rejection by family and friends may decide to patronize a baby farm. Again, some victims of kidnap can be abused and forced into baby farming. There are also religious and health reasons: childlessness among married couples whose religion does not allow polygamy and those who may not feel comfortable going to orphanage for adoption may patronize baby factory.
Whatever the reasons, the forces of demand and supply sustain baby farming. There are people looking for babies to buy and there are people ready to sell. “The children are sold for adoption, will work in plantations, mines and factories, will carry out domestic work or are sold into prostitution. Less commonly they are tortured or sacrificed in black magic, witchcraft rituals.”
From the fore going, baby farming, and baby factory, is a global issue that can exist in any country and in any part of such country. It cuts across tribe and religion – and the reasons for it maybe legion but varies from individuals at different points in time!
In Nigeria for instance, cases of baby farming with resultant baby factory have been reported in all the regions of the country – north and south. “Running parallel to “miracle” doctors is Nigeria’s baby farming industry,” said Professor Alex Dodoo of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre in Ghana who explained that the level of baby farms has reached “epidemic” levels.” It has also been reported that human trafficking is ranked the third most common crime in Nigeria after financial fraud and drug trafficking. According to the United Nations, at least 10 children are sold every day across the country.
In southeast Nigeria, “in 2008, a network of baby factories claiming to be orphanages was revealed in Enugu, Enugu State by police raids. In 2011, Nigerian police raided two more hospitals, thereby dismantling two baby factories: in June, thirty-two pregnant girls were rescued in Aba, Abia State from a hospital of The Cross Foundation; in October, seventeen pregnant girls (thirty according to some sources were rescued in Ihiala, Anambra State from a hospital of the Iheanyi Ezuma Foundation.” There are other cases reported in Portharcourt, Rivers State. And the primary reason baby factory is prevalent in this part of Nigeria is because “getting married to multiple women has grown out of fashion due to Christian belief. In the days of our fore fathers, a man can marry as many wives as his strength permits him and hence the chances of getting children from them are higher but with advent of Christianity which frowns at polygamy coupled with the societal pressure to have children, people rather buy them than marry more wives.” Corroborating this point, someone said, “The joy of every home is the children. My views will shock some people but I have seen couples who had lost all excitement in life, have lost all steam to deliver…the hope of living was restored when they were invited to ‘buy’ a baby, then at two hundred and fifty thousand naira from a young girl who had mistakenly gotten pregnant but was afraid to commit abortion, ran away from home into a nurse operated maternity home with the pregnancy taken good care of. The previously childless couples carried home the 12-hour old baby, the nurse earned so much gratitude and some money, the girl went home after getting back to shape, and the parents welcomed her back… The girl may live with guilt of fornication and lies but not of abortion (murder).”
In southwest Nigeria, there are baby farming and baby factories too. Writing on: “Factories, factories, Baby factories, everywhere!” (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/08/factories-factories-baby-factories-everywhere-1) Ugoji Egbujo penned, “…Babies are now commodities? Our morality has depreciated. Who foresaw that teenage pregnancy once a taboo can become business? This is not about the new craze – the “baby mama” phenomenon, that’s a different market. Materialism has helped to dismantle our moral hedges. A trade driven by greed plies roads paved by cultural ignorance. The majority of these factories are in Igbo land and not by accident. But many are now blossoming in Lagos, Ogun and other parts of southern Nigeria. I guess widespread polygamy has left the north untouched by the scourge. But the north has its own debilitating affliction. In the far north men marry many wives and carelessly have too many children. They spill onto the streets and grow, untamed, in the wild. A different kind of production line? You deliberately produce more than you can cater for? That is grossly immoral too.”
Also, the Vanguard newspaper wrote, “LAGOS – Nigerian police said Saturday they had raided a home near Lagos where eight pregnant girls were staying with plans to sell each of their newborns for nearly two thousand dollars. “Following intelligence report, we discovered and stormed on Friday a baby factory in Akute district of Ogun state,” a police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, told AFP. In the home they found the suspected operator and eight pregnant girls, most of them under the age of 20, he said. It is the latest discovery of a so-called ‘baby factory’ and the first known case in southwest Nigeria. The Guardian newspaper in Lagos published on its front page Saturday a picture of the eight girls, showing their protruding bellies. “The girls confessed that each newborn child will be sold for 300,000 naira ($1,800/1,300 euros),” Oyeyemi said, adding that the suspects will be charged in court with crimes at the end of the current investigations.” (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/03/police-free-pregnant-girls-baby-factory-raid)
There is another report on the existence of baby factories in southwest saying, “Early this month, the Police uncovered a baby factory in Adigbe community in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, Western Nigeria. According to media reports, three pregnant girls were rescued from the baby factory located at SOAS Estate. Items recovered from the house included cowries, a calabash containing black soap and white garments. The female operator of the baby factory has since been apprehended. The Abeokuta incident occurred less than two weeks after eight pregnant women were rescued from a baby factory in Ifo Local Government Area of the same state. About three months before the two Ogun State incidents, precisely in January 2014, the Ondo State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service discovered a baby factory owned by a herbal clinic owner in Ilu-Titun, a village in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State. No fewer than 21 persons, including 11 women at various stages of pregnancy and eight men cohabiting to make babies for the baby factory owner, were arrested from the building belonging to the baby factory owner. The NIS authorities alleged that the baby factory owner had a branch in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of the state. The menace of use of babies for ritual purposes had occurred in Ekiti State on November 18, 2013, when armed bandits suspected to be ritualists invaded a government hospital in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, demanding newborn babies from hospital officials on duty.” (http://westernpostnigeria.com/baby-factories-in-south-west-nigeria)
In the north, contributing to comments on “Northern Baby Factories” on Nairaland Forum on April 27, 2015, Ahmed Madaki wrote, “Do you know that in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto states there exist classified brothels and BABY FACTORIES, that is being run by top Northern politicians/leaders? Yes, there is baby factory in the north. WALK INTO ZARIA CITY AND FIGURE IT OUT! Most of these almajiris are products of these baby factories, whilst others end up as items for money ritual…” To buttress the point, “A woman who faked her own pregnancy after years of infertility has been convicted of smuggling a child into Britain after apparently buying it from a Nigerian “baby farm” and passing it off as her own. Mansuratu Ediae, 41, is believed by police to have paid for the baby at an illicit establishment in the southern city of Port Harcourt, where girls and young women are locked up by trafficking gangs and forced to hand over new-born babies for cash. Ediae – whose psychiatrist husband had come under pressure from his family to divorce his wife as they were unable to have children – spun a “tissue of lies” by claiming to have given birth to twins in Nigeria, after undergoing fertility treatment with native herbal remedies. She later told police that one of the children – a daughter – died soon after she gave birth, and that she returned to her home in Britain with the surviving child after receiving clearance to travel following an interview with her husband at the British embassy.”(http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/woman-who-faked-pregnancy-smuggled-baby-out-nigeri/2536643).
It is no more news that baby factory is global issue, and in Nigeria, it exists in every region across ethnic lines. Enumerating the five top factors responsible for the rising cases of baby factories and child trafficking in Nigeria as poverty, quest for quick money, unemployment, stigma against teenage pregnancy, stigma against pregnancy out of wedlock, NOIPolls concludes that baby factories exist in all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria. (http://www.noi-polls.com/documents/1_pagers_-_Baby_Factory.pdf).
And because most times the reason for baby farming and baby factory is ignorance – most of the girls become pregnant out of not knowing what to do or how not to be involved in sex before marriage – we must take up the challenge of educating and re-orientating our youth especially girls on sex education and family planning, come with policies that will not see childlessness as a taboo and a curse, maybe, by establishing functional old people homes with good welfare packages so that those without children can be properly cared for at old age. Again, we must strive to have a responsible and responsive government that will ensure the existence and enjoyment of fundamental human rights so no one, under whatever guise, can take away another person’s life and go free.