Thursday, 26 March 2015

Baby factories... please, help!!!

Baby factories... please, help!!!

Monica, 17, ran out of the house with a  N100 note into the street to buy two  cups of gari for the family’s afternoon meal-as her mother instructed. Suddenly, a vehicle pulled beside her as she entered a kiosk to buy the stuff. Unsuspecting, she answered a few questions from the three occupants of the vehicle, collected the N1,000 handed to her, nods in agreement and runs excitedly home with the gari. 

A few hours later, the same vehicle was seen parked a few meters away from where she lied with her mother and four other siblings. A tall middle-aged man looked around expectantly. Oh, here she comes-with an overstuffed bag; obviously with clothes. She entered the vehicle and off they went!
Days ran into weeks... no sign of Monica. “Mama Monica, where is Monica, your daughter?” Neighbours asked. “She has gone to stay with her uncle for a brief period,” she replied. After eleven months, Monica resurfaced, a bit robust, but withdrawn and erratic. The N150, 000 she handed to her mother on her return was like an ill-wind, for peace and happiness developed wings and flew out of the house. 

Summary: Monica was put in the family way and, after having given birth to a baby boy; she was compensated with the sum of N150, 000 and sent away.
Children are a gift from God, but today, such priceless gifts are purchased-almost across the counter-with sums even as low as N30, 000; depending on the “shop owner.” The following questions deserve serious consideration: What is behind the current surge in baby merchandise, in an age of modern technology which offers diverse impressive fertility options? Why is baby sale such a booming business? Who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of sold babies? Society? Parents? The teenage girls involved? The men who actually demonstrate their manpower?

 To be candid, operators of baby factories are only one half the problems. The vast numbers of married couples who patronise them are guilty as charged. They show how little they value one another as life partners. They show how incapable God is to make things happen for them. Elkanah and Hannah could have visited a baby factory, but they chose to wait on God. Abraham and Sarah had every reason to do likewise, but they left every burden in the hands of God. The waiting game worked! We all know their stories. There are others in our society today who are ardent believers in God’s unlimited powers.
 The Apostle Paul wrote: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity, to the law of sin which is in my members.”- Romans 7: 22-23. Everyone is vulnerable to temptations. They can take any form. True. Times are hard and habits formed during hard times die hard. Likewise, the resolve to do what is right is most likely to break in areas in which one is most vulnerable. 

Baby sale involves a number of complex social and emotional issues. Research shows that many victims of baby factory business racket come from dysfunctional homes which set the stage for baby factory merchandising-very ignorant of consequences. To complicate issues further, these baby factory merchants easily switch to designer methods to meet up with the growing demand. The methods include promise of overseas study and jobs, comfortable marriage and contracts, among others.

 The profit may be high, but the risk is even higher, considering factors such as low-self esteem and deadly sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
Winning the war against baby factory business is a laudable goal, but it is no easy task because two powerful engines drive the shameful baby factory-DEMAND and SUPPLY. If efforts to control the “product” supply proves futile, reducing the demand for the product, which carries sex-defined price tags, could be a better option. 

Many ask: Rehabilitation is laudable, but can that cage the real beast (poverty) that is responsible for this dastardly act in the first place? Yes, it can, and not only rehabilitation, but the intervention of the Akwa Ibom State First Lady, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, has gone a long way to stem the tide of this bane. 

With her I-must-render-help attitude, more than 1,000 young people, once trafficked and subjected to domestic labour and sex trade in big cities across Nigeria and along the West African coast, had been repatriated. Today, they are beneficiaries of the state’s free and compulsory education scheme. Moreover, her pet project, the Family Life Enhancement Initiative (FLEI) programme, so far, has provided business start-up capital, skills training and equipment to further secure meaningful life for them. Again, to complement the job creation efforts of the state government, she envisioned and implemented the Green Brigade programme which has employed more than 2,000 women and young persons-mostly girls. 

The war on baby factories is a battle for hearts and minds, and not merely an issue for the police, courts and prisons. Baby sale is a social problem created by society. Therefore, the society needs to be changed or, at least, change people’s way of thinking. 

If the war on baby factory merchandise is to be won, the trend should be perceived as one of the main threats to social security and stable family framework. It is a national problem that can no longer be solved by national efforts alone. 

For there to be a check on these random conceptions and baby trade, public enlightenment and fervent prayers will go a long way to ensure decline in the demand for commercial babies.

 -Glory Jackson- Media consultant and commentator on contemporary issues

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