WHAThas now become a public issue is the sale of babies – a menace which has been on for some time – as teenage girls become victims of unwanted pregnancies and the children produced are sold out for adoption to couples who want babies at all cost.
At the baby making factory, young girls are encouraged or forced to become pregnant and after delivery, the newborn babies are be sold out, usually between N500,000 or more, depending on the sex of the child. The main concern of this piece is how to eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum, the continued demand and supply of these babies under the guise of lucrative ‘business’. Who patronize the baby factory?
The answer is simple – it is either couples who badly need children, which they cannot get biologically or mischievous persons who require human parts for mischievous reasons. Nowhere is selling of adult human beings or children not a concerned the world over.
For instance, Article 3 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially women and children, Section 50 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 of Nigeria defines trafficking as including “all acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transportation within or across Nigerian borders, purchase, sale, transfer, receipt or harbouring of a person involving the use of deception, coercion or debt bondage for the purpose of placing or holding the person whether for or not involving servitude in force or bonded labour, or in slavery-like conditions” while the Childs Rights Act (Cap 198) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria also criminalises exploitative child labour and other forms of child abuse hitherto left unpunished by the Criminal Codes.
In many African countries, a couple’s inability to give birth to children few years after marriage is often frowned at by family members and even the extended family members, culminating into family members trading blames and pointing accusing fingers at wives for the inability to bear children.
This social problem will continue to fester unless drastic steps are taken to address the contending issues surrounding the spread of baby factories. To begin with, our adoption laws should be reviewed without further delay as this will give those who seek after having children -when they cannot produce biologically, the clean option.
Apart from the fact that married people still contend with the challenge of covering up the tracks of the origin of the children who should necessarily be integrated into the family, some establishments and government institutions reel-out age limits for the needy couples and for those who are more than 50 years, their applications may not be treated at all.
Another obstacle is that the adopting couples are usually inundated with rigorous demands by child-adoption agencies. Again, official adoption procedure that is managed by state governments, are excessively bureaucratic such that the adoptive parents are expected to meet and fulfil the basic rights and duties of the adopted child. And in the process of disbursing of wills and settlements, the adopted child must be treated as a lawful child of the adoptive parents, the same way as the biological child and not as a stranger.
Usually, when a couple wants to adopt a child, they are first expected to have obtained a temporary custody of the child. The child would then have to live with them for a couple of months on a trial basis to ascertain if they are fit to take care of the prospective adopted child.
Next, if the couple meets with the requirements, then the court allows adoption to take place, although it reserves the right to revoke any adoption process if it receives reports of any foul play along the line. A single parent too is not permitted to adopt a child of opposite sex, except in an extreme circumstance. Genuine adoptions should, therefore, be simplified to curb buying of babies.
Another factor that still encourages the booming trade, is the huge cost required in seeking medical assistance to have children. Whereas there is great advancement in medical sciences for barren couples to be assisted through the InVitro Fertilization, IVF, the process is usually out of reach of the ordinary. Going by the prevailing economic situation, it is a reality that only a few couple can afford the cost, which is not less than N1million for each attempt. Government should provide the leeway by coming in and seek ways of helping needy couples.
Another point of concern is the need for effective monitoring of several organisations that engage in nefarious activities that are largely unknown to the government. It is surprising that virtually all the organizations involved in the baby factory saga claimed to be duly registered.
These ‘factories’ were found to have been registered as non-governmental organizations, which allows them to carry out their unofficial activities through the back door. A suspected operator of one of the factories was reported to have taken the police to court for daring to challenge him. Unfortunately, he later obtained a court judgment by restraining the police from prosecuting him. In the light of this, government should tighten its registration and monitoring of the NGOs.
More importantly, not many culprits have been caught and punished. We only get to read about what transpired without any mention of what sanctions were meted-out to the offenders. What resultant effect of such double standards is that some of these suspects will continue to compromise the system and escape punishment.
Mr. ADEWALE KUPOLUYI, wrote from Federal University of Agric., Abeokuta, Ogun State.