April 20, 2024

Booming baby factory: Who’s to blame?

Booming baby factory: Who’s to blame?

File image of a baby factory being demolished.

By Yetunde Arebi

There is now a booming underground baby trade in Nigeria. From pregnant young girls to baby factories and greedy madams and at the end of the long chain, the traumatised, desperate would-be-parents, are eager to take custody of the helpless, innocent ‘commodity’.

So long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. Who is to blame? The seller? The buyer? The society? Or the authorities? The Nigeria society and indeed the government, in my own opinion, has set a festering ground for this unfortunate business to thrive.

A government that fails to care for its citizens by providing the necessary enabling environment, infrastructure for development and self-actualisation, can only throw its citizens into horrible desperate situations that will force them to take drastic damning decisions.

Life becomes a vicious cycle as it is now in Nigeria. From a high level of illiteracy which often gives birth to unskilled labour and joblessness, nothing short of poverty can stare most citizens in the face.

It cannot be overemphasised that the prevailing socio-economic problems have continued to lure/force many young women into having sex at an early age for survival instincts, ill informed and unprepared. Prostitution is now widespread among young school girls and undergraduates. 

The lack of, or little knowledge of sex education and access to reproductive healthcare services for young people only means that they are strolling on a landmine. No one needs to be told what happens when you have unsafe sex. You may either get pregnant or contract STIs or both. Very few get away with it. 

Out of school, impregnated by a man unwilling to take on the responsibility of a wife and child, many young girls are shut out in the cold by parents, lovers and society that failed to watch out for them. With no job, no support system from family and government via social welfare, the future of both mother and unborn child is as bleak as night. 

Abortion, usually the escape route, is illegal in Nigeria, forcing many to engage in all sorts of clandestine activities, their services, often leading to severe or permanent injuries and even death.

In Nigeria, no fewer than 2,000 women die annually from abortion and related complications, with the North East recording the highest rate, according to Dr. Christopher Lamai, Head of Department, Obstetrics and  Gynaecology, Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe. But we are apprehensive of being stigmatised, so we rather play the Ostrich, and continue in our culture of silence and self righteousness, while the havoc goes on unhindered. 

Faced with little or no option but a life of anguish, pain and suffering for eons, many young girls are yet again, forced to look for other ways out, still skirting on the edges of illegality. For, how practical would it be to walk into an orphanage or government institution and just declare that you do not want your baby simply because you are young and incapable of taking care of it? You just might be handed over to the police for all you care. Advice is free, but help is hard to come by.

So, these young ladies grab it with both hands, when the offer of getting rid of their problems and still walking away with money to start a new life, no matter how little, comes their way. Reasons why baby factories will continue to spring up everywhere and  young ladies will continue to exchange their blood and flesh for a flicker of hope. 

Marriage and children 

In a society where the success of a marriage is hinged on its ability to produce children, and the fulfillment and happiness of the family is anchored on the assurance of procreation and continuation of lineage, this side of the world is a difficult place to be for a childless couple.

And the woman is usually guilty. She must have been wayward as a young girl, flushing all her babies down the toilet through abortion. And so the man is encouraged to try his luck somewhere else and not waste his precious youth shagging a male dog.

Yes, couples may go for IVF. But we know it costs hundreds of thousands if not millions of Naira, and there is often no guarantee that it might work out at the first trial. Surrogacy is not without its own challenges too and should things go wrong with whatever deal was struck, it might be at grave cost to a couple. Yet, society still needs to be more open about this.

Issues such as who can seek and provide such services have to be thoroughly spelled out as we cannot continue to operate in secrecy. The world has left us behind with our holier-than-the-pope attitude.

The honest truth is that there is a need for the government to take a second look at our adoption laws and design new ways of making it easy and accessible for desirable individuals to care for these children. The long waiting lists, government bureaucracy which have given way to corrupt practices among the officials are some of the bottlenecks making legal adoption unattractive to intending adoptive parents.

Something must give way if we are to achieve a win-win situation for all involved.

Hmm! Do have a wonderful weekend and stay safe!!

Vanguard News