In the face of current economic challenges and global fall in the price of crude oil, which until now was Nigeria’s largest source of income and also the recent increase in the exchange rate of the Naira to a Dollar, which has led the government to trumpet the need for diversification into the areas of mining, and agriculture. A baby farm in this regard does not mean anything in relation to tilling the soil and planting seeds.
A baby farm otherwise known as a baby factory is a location where pregnant women or girls are encouraged or forced to become pregnant and give up their newborns for sale.
The high level of poverty, illiteracy and psychological toxification as a result of environmental factors has given rise to an enterprise solely providing services in the area of child sales, and the procuring of girls/women who have been abandoned due to unwanted pregnancy, or poverty to become pregnant and are taken care of until they are delivered of their babies which will be sold to prospective buyers.
Baby farm in Nigeria is a new economic enterprise which is an offshoot from the thriving human trafficking venture which till date poses a challenge to government as to a total eradication whereby perpetrators of the institution use structures camouflaged and masked as maternity homes, orphanages, clinics and small scale factories. This is done to employ, accept and keep pregnant girls to live and deliver babies in turn for compensation which can be in monetary form, business setup and on other terms agreed upon by parties.
The assertion that this venture is an illegal one need not be over emphasized. However, the focus here is to look at the chain of production in this factory which involves primarily three classes of players, and the face this trend has given to our health sector.
The assertion that pregnancy is the ‘fruit’ of the womb can be construed to mean that a pregnancy carried by a woman has all the trappings of typical agricultural fruits; such as mango, cashew, apple and the likes. One fundamental spring point of a fruit is that it is grown by the planting of a seed, and a person or instrument with which these seeds are planted is referred to as a planter. A person or object engaged in sowing seeds is a planter.
The import of the above as it is connected with the baby farm/ factory enterprise is one that presents a mental and physical picture that for any pregnancy to occur there must be an act, and it is common knowledge that this act involves two parties; the man and the woman. The woman here who carries the seed can be likened to a field and the man is the planter. It has been established that those who are recruited for such jobs are those from poor homes.
In as much as there is no gain saying that the rate of sexual connections between youths is on the increase and a lot of teenage boys have become planters of seeds they wish not to plant nor nurture on the long run.
The second in the chain of baby factory venture are the ‘Harvesters’. Establishing that a fruit must pass through the process of planting by the planter, it is a truism that a ripe fruit must be harvested for sale or consumption by the harvester or the end user or customer. A person involved in the process of harvesting crops either manually or with the help of machines is a harvester. The harvesters in this regard is the most recognized in the chain of this business as he deals with customers/end users directly., also they house the pregnant girls, cloth them, feed them and also take delivery of the babies, not to forget the bulk of the money realized from sales goes to the harvesters/seller. These harvesters are individuals actively housing these girls from conception to delivery.
In 2008, some orphanages in disguise were revealed in Enugu state by police raids. In 2011, the Nigerian police raided two hospitals and dismantled two baby factories. Also in june 2011, thirty-two pregnant girls were rescued in Aba, Abia state from a hospital of The Cross Foundation. In October 2011, seventeen pregnant girls were rescued in Ihiala Anambra state from a hospital of the Iheanyi Ezuma Foundation .
These harvesters make as much as #400,000 – #500,000 per baby harvest which makes this illegal trade a lucrative business and one can only imagine the current price in the face of current economic recession. It is however disappointing that some bad eggs within the medical profession have chosen to be used as harvesters. On Monday, 9 June 2008. It was reported that one Mrs Aguocha arrested by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps(NSCDC), confessed that she bought a baby from one Dr. Kenneth Akume who is also known as Dr. Chukwu Uzoma, for #340,000 who allegedly operates a maternity home at 3-6 Anyaebunam street Uwani, Enugu. 22 girls pregnant whose age range was 15-18 years were rescued. However, it was also alleged that his certificate of practice was withdrawn on account of same baby harvesting saga before the current reported incident.
The veracity of the fact that for a business to be effective, all the chains of production of a fruit which are planting, harvesting and the supply to the end user or consumer should be complete. The consumer like every other ‘stake holder’ plays a very important role.
A consumer is a person who is at the last chain of production, who uses the already processed goods or services, this they do by getting it financially.
The dynamics of the health sector is one that is closely knit with the consumer (those who buy the babies) amongst other purposes. For the purchases of a child the most outstanding and commonly used excuses and defense is high rate of infertility. The import of the above is that the boom in the baby selling venture shows that there is a high customer base, and this is attributed to the high level of infertility amongst couples and those driven by desperation and in a bid to escape high cost of medical operations to correct the anomalies tend to patronize these ventures.
It is reported that 1 in 8 couples (12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy (2006-2016 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC). Sadly, it is worthy of note that 25% of Nigerian couples suffer from infertility, while experts claim 40-45% of all consultation in gynecological clinics are infertility related.
An article published by the American DailyMail Blog states that in India, the Baby farm industry thrives as infertile couples are turning to women in India to carry and give birth to their children, as commercial surrogacy is not legal in certain countries. It has even been argued that Indian baby farms are helping poverty-striken women and their families move from slums and set up businesses.
Another reason the baby farm thrives in Nigeria is Poverty. Women who become a part of the planters in this farm is because they are poor and they see the farm as a means of livelihood. Some women would even state that they do not have homes to live in therefore they live and survive under the belief that the “harvesters” are helping them by providing shelter, food and clothing.
Its been stated that Infertility is a reason why there is a rise in the baby farm income. The identified causes of Infertily are:
Lack of regular ovulation (The monthly release of an egg),
Blockage of the fallopian tubes,
Age and endometriosis,
Poor quality of semen.
The above affect the reproductive systems of the couples thereby making it difficult to conceive. Flowing from this, the dynamics of our health sector preach safer sex, and the use of contraceptives for the protection against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s), little or no commentary is published on cushioning the disaster occasioned by the above causational factors leading to infertility.
The boom in the sales of children also depicts damages occasioned by wrong procedure for the expulsion of a fetus also known as abortion.
An effect the baby farm has on the health sector is it causes a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases. Genotype problems can also arise if a child carrying the sickle cell gene is born as a result of the “planting” done.
In the face of economic recession, the failure to grab and arrest some social vices and menace such as the baby factory enterprise will plunge the nation into a reverse gear in it plans for the youth and children alike. The health sector should advocate for safer ways to maintain the female and male reproductive organs through established dos and don’ts; there should also be means of eradicating poverty from the lives of the citizens of Nigeria.
I strongly believe that in eradicating the baby farm enterprise through enlightment and proper education of the indigent citizens, the nations productivity would be increased.
By Samson Obaro.