In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, human trafficking is ranked the third most common crime.
Photograph: Will Curtis/Getty Images
On June 1st, Nigerian police announced that they had raided a "baby factory" in Aba over the weekend. A doctor, Hyacinth Orikara, and 32 pregnant teenage girls were arrested and rescued. The girls were told that they would be paid between 25,000 and 30,000 naira for their babies, depending on whether the baby was male or female. The babies would then be sold--for illegal adoption or to be used in rituals--for between 300,000 and 1,000,000 naira. Some of the girls also told police that friends who had been there before recommended the clinic. The girls were to be either charged or transferred to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons for more investigation.
In Nigeria, it is illegal to buy or sell babies, and the practice can earn a perpetrator 14 years in jail. However, most Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, despite being a major exporter of crude oil. As $1 is worth approximately 156 naira, the girls were earning between $160 and $190 for their babies, which were then being sold for somewhere between $1925 and $6425.
So many things horrify me when I read stories like these. The notion of buying and selling anyone--babies or otherwise--disgusts me, particularly when the babies are to be tortured and/or killed in a black magic ritual, as some of these babies would have been. Others would have been sold into prostitution, and some sold for illegal adoption. I'm saddened by the fact that there are those out there who wish a child and want to adopt but either don't know they are adopting illegally (or possibly can't afford to go through legal channels) or worse, don't care. I'm also saddened by the plight of the pregnant teenagers. Some of them were duped into going to the clinic, some of them may have consciously chosen to sell their babies. While that would make them complicit on one hand, on the other, they are teenagers and victims, not guilty. $160 is a lot of money to these girls. What does that say about all of us?
For more information on this story, read "Nigeria 'baby farm' girls rescued by Abia state police" and "Nigerian 'baby farm' raided – 32 pregnant girls rescued." For more information on trafficking in general, please visit Girl for Sale.
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