Sex, Baby Factories Still Business As Usual

<strong>Sex, Baby Factories Still Business As Usual</strong>

Only recently, theAnambra State police command rescued 35 teenagers “used as sex slaves” at a hotel in the state. 

According to reports, these teenagers, aged between 14 and 17 years, were made to engage in acts such as prostitution, even as they were forced to have babies. This is one incident that indeed reawakened the burning issues raised by the thriving illegal business.

According Tochukwu Ikenga, spokesman for the police; “Following a rigorous analysis of crime trends and pattern, the operatives on June 13, 2022, working on information, busted a hotel named Gally Gally in Nkpor where they use children between the ages of 14 to 17 years as sex slaves, for prostitution and baby factory”.

As it is, the baby factory business is one of the most vicious, illegal businesses persistently ravaging our nation and no one region of the country can be safely isolated from this nefarious trade.

The statistic is alarming as at least 10 babies are sold every day in Nigeria. The United Nations equally corroborated that position on the number of babies sold out daily in a report. It is of concern that the illegal business has continued to thrive despite efforts by relevant law enforcement agencies to stem the tide.

According to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, human trafficking is the third most common heinous crime in Nigeria as well as most other countries, after financial fraud and drug trafficking.

Illegal maternity homes have continued to spring up with reports of the number of identified factories growing every year. The UNESCO report in 2006 revealed that most of the discovered baby factories were found in Southern Nigeria with high incidence in Ondo, Ogun, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Anambra. It is seen by most Nigerians as a disreputable practice that has continued unabated, now expanding at an alarming proportion in different parts of the country.

It is embarrassing that every region and state has recorded one or more arrests of operators of baby factories in recent times.

The owners of these illegal maternity homes hire men to impregnate ladies. In some cases, these young ladies are held against their will and raped and their babies sold for profit. Other times, it is a case of a pregnant lady getting to a maternity home to deliver, ignorant of the fact that it is a baby factory and her baby ends up being sold without her consent.

The baby factories across Nigeria have also become a place of solace for young girls with unwanted pregnancy. Another angle is that this menace has thrived in Nigeria due to the stigmatization of ladies who get pregnant out of wedlock. This is because those victims find the hostels as safe havens for secretly dropping their unwanted babies for a token without the glare of the public and thereafter continue with their normal lives as though nothing happened.

Experts have pointed out that the trend was precipitated by various factors including high social premium placed on childbearing, infertility and teenage pregnancy hastened by the unwanted social stigma associated with them.

One other major reason for the continued occurrence of this second slavery rests on the fact that like most other organised crimes, baby factories are operated by a powerful cartel, involving prominent people backing the nefarious trade. They recruit assistants among doctors, nurses, social workers and civil servants.

Poverty, though never an excuse, has made extremely poor and vulnerable teen girls and ladies see such homes as veritable opportunities for redressing their economic misfortunes by selling their babies.

The babies are being sold both domestically and internationally. However, with the high rate of rituals and the global rise in human organs trafficking one cannot predict the hands those babies fall into. Most of these babies are also tortured as they are used as domestic workers in homes, plantations, factories and even prostitution.

The notorious crime is worrisome as it poses a great threat to national security. The situation made the House of Representatives in March 2020 to pass a resolution calling on the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, to synergise with other law enforcement agencies to forestall the activities of baby factories through effective intelligence gathering and dissemination of information.

We advocate subsidy for fertility treatment and a seamless adoption process in the country in view of the growing menace even as we call the media to play its role in tackling the threat by an unrelenting exposure of these evils.

We also urge NAPTIP to closely monitor orphanages and maternity homes to prevent them from being used for these nefarious activities.

It is important to emphasise regulation and enforcement at both state and federal levels where all maternity homes and orphanages are duly registered and issued licences to operate within their scope.

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