Trading of Newborns Booms: Baby Girls Priced Lot Less than Baby Boys!
There just seems to be no end to the miseries that the female gender encounters. Mothers, wives, spinsters, ladies, sisters, brides, baby girls, young girls, aunties, grannies, are all at the receiving end of most ills of the society. Before now, the most common types of abuse that baby girls were subjected to centered on abandonment, rejection, and sexual abuse. However, a new dimension of dilemma has been added to the woes of baby girls. Today, the inglorious act of treating babies as an article of trade is made worse by the fact that baby girls are thought to be of lesser value and thus sold at prices far lesser than the price tags placed on baby boys. Beyond the price issue, it is outrageous that even within the confines of such illicit activities, sex discrimination still persists. While new born baby boys are sold for prices ranging between N600,000.00 – N1,500,000.00 (that is $3750 - $9375); baby girls go for a low as N150,000.00 – N300,000.00 ($937.5 - $1875).
The illegal act of buying and selling of new born babies seems to have become normal practice for both the illicit merchants and their clientele. The act is being perpetuated by syndicates spread across different parts of Nigeria. It is sad to note, though, that these reprehensible cartels have as members both well-read men and women alike. Only recently, an Onitsha (in Anambra, Southeastern Nigeria) based medical doctor and his allies were arrested by officers of the department of state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Awka, Anambra. The medical doctor was arrested alongside his wife and five other members of the syndicate, including a teacher in one of the primary schools in Umuoji, Idemili Local Government Area after they had allegedly conspired and sold a new born baby boy belonging to a sales girl aged 20 years, for N600,000.00 ($3,750.00).
The doctor and his accomplices were discovered to have been housing prostitutes as well as adolescent girls, and impregnating them for the purpose of breeding babies for sale. They were also found to be offering maternity services to unsuspecting pregnant women, whom they eventually dispossess of their newly delivered babies; without their consent. The medical doctor’s areas of operations were quite wide as it was also discovered that he ran a maternity home at Amaorji village where he also employed others who aided his illicit business of “new born babies trafficking”. It took the efforts of a legal representative of the 20 year old sales girl to open up the doctor’s can of worms.
The hapless young lady was said to have gotten pregnant for her boyfriend who later absconded. Weighed down by her predicament, she took her boss into confidence regarding her hard luck. She thought fate had smiled on her when he offered to marry her and take full responsibility for her condition. To an extent, he fulfilled his promise by taking full responsibility for all her needs. Everything appeared normal and at a stage, she was taken to a hospital and maternity home located in Onitsha, where she was safely delivered of a baby boy. Unknown to her, however, plans had been perfected by her boss cum husband, to sell the baby. Sadly, the baby is yet to be recovered.
Another victim of the illegal baby trade had been living with her grandmother until a young man approached her granny and asked for her hand in marriage. Happily, her granny consented, and the marriage held. By the time the girl got pregnant, her husband did not permit her to enroll for anti-natal classes in a regular hospital; but rather he brought a nurse to her; informing her that the nurse would provide her with all the necessary care at home up until her time of delivery. By the time she was due, the nurse who had by now become a regular face in their home, came over, delivered her of the baby and took the baby away. Her husband allayed her concerns about leaving their baby with the nurse, by convincing her that they needed time together while the nurse cared for the baby. Consequent upon mounting pressures from the new mother and her granny who longed to see and embrace her great grandchild, it was discovered that the baby’s father had actually sold the baby to the nurse.
A third victim’s story which I thought pertinent to bring to bare is that of a teenage girl who got pregnant and was sent away from home by her parents. During her sojourn out of home, she met someone who directed her to a maternity home notorious for taking in young girls with unwanted pregnancies. The girl was all too glad to be rid of her baby and return home. She willingly gave the baby up to the health center where she was safely delivered of the baby. Feeling accomplished, she happily returned home claiming that she was never pregnant and that her mother had only raised a false alarm. Her well experienced mother could however not be deceived into believing her daughter’s cock and bull story and pressured her into telling the truth. This of course lead to the uncovering of the nefarious activities perpetuated at the so called hospital and maternity center.
Currently, my dear country ranks high on the list of countries with soaring rates of child abuse. Nigeria has been identified as a source, transit and destination for trafficking in persons. The commonest forms of trafficking in persons were female and child trafficking. To think that newborn trafficking has joined the list remains mind boggling! At one end of the divide are women and young girls who are kidnapped or lured at will and forced to become baby breeders. The other end plays host to the many childless women who are desperate to save their marriages by acquiring a baby they can call their own. For such women desperation seems to have taken over reasoning, sensitivity and sensibility as they are ready to become mothers at all cost; especially because of the pressures they face from their in-laws who are unrelenting in their effort to send them out of their matrimonial homes if they didn’t give birth to a child. The question is “How many men have been sent out of their matrimonial homes by in-laws, because they were responsible for childlessness in the home? I dare say “None!”
Childbearing at all cost evidently remains one of the many extremes to which women are subjected to and is to a very large extent responsible for the current boom that the illegal trading of babies enjoys in Nigeria. This is untoward and the society must desist from acts that subject or push women to extremes. In a just society, everyone’s fundamental freedom and human rights must be respected and protected. No one has the authority to inflict procreation or deprive any woman, girl or mother of her reproductive right as well as right to her baby. The baby merchants and their clients who are on the prowl in our society fail to recognize and respect the joy of motherhood. It definitely means nothing to them! Everything must be done to stop them in their tracks. Everyone must join in the efforts to ensure that women’s reproductive rights and children’s rights are protected. We are collectively responsible for whatever happens to a mother and child in our society.