There are many illegal maternity homes/ baby factories in Abia.
Experts and stakeholders at the recent 6th Abia Women Integrated Conference/Pre-August Meeting have stressed the need for the Abia State Government to enforce all the provisions of the law on the rights of the child.
Their concern was due to the growing incidence of human trafficking in the state.
They also expressed concern about the increasing rate of child labour and trafficking as well as the proliferation of illegal maternity homes in the state.
The illegal maternity homes are christened, “baby factories, as their operators use them as camps where women and teenage girls are kept and made to bear babies that are later sold.”
Nkiruka Michael, South-East Zonal Commander of the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic In Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP), said that over eight million Nigerian children were engaged in various forms of child labour.
Mohammed Tilli, Commissioner of Police in Abia, admitted that the issue of ‘baby factory’ was real.
He cited one Oluchukwu Ogidi of Amaoji in the Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the state, who reported to the police that his wife, Kelechi, connived with one Williams Oruwa who delivered her a baby boy and sold it for N300, 000.
“Three other pregnant women within the ages of 21 and 23, being harboured by the said Dr Williams were rescued and are being used as prosecution witnesses.
“In Aba, one Ozioma Ekwelum reported that her husband, Onyekachi Ekwelum, sold their six-months-old son, Oluebubechukwu Ekwelum, for N350,000 to enable him procure a travelling document to Greece,’’ Mr. Tilli said.
Ms. Michael said that NAPTIP had prosecuted more than 100 cases of child trafficking, adding that over 200 victims in the zone had been rehabilitated.
She noted that the scourge had direct bearing on the proliferation of illegal maternity homes, and appealed for a clamp-down of such homes in the state.
“There must be a dedicated effort on the part of government and other bodies to solve the socio-economic factors which contribute to the problem,” she added.
Ms. Michael said that government needed to enforce existing laws on the right to education for the child as provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Odochi Orji, wife of the Abia State Governor, stressed the need for collective responsibility to check human trafficking and child abuse.
Mrs. Orji said that women should discourage their fellow women from selling their babies because of money, adding that such was immoral and an abomination in any civilised society.
“Government should properly scrutinise the registration of all motherless babies’ homes, orphanages and maternities in the state with a view to identifying the fake and the genuine.
“This will help abolish illegal business of child trafficking, and close all baby factories in our society,” she said.
Mrs. Orji appealed to relevant government agencies to properly scrutinise procedures for child adoption in the state, “as this may help eliminate all unpleasant and uncivilised practices that may risk the safety, welfare and future of the child’’.
Onyinyechi Nwosu, a career coach, decried the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies and thriving business of baby factories in the state.
“Teenage pregnancy leaves the girl in a state of uncertainty about the future and that of her unborn child. She drops out of school which affects her self-esteem.
“Then, she has her family to face for dragging its name to the mud. This was one reason that gave rise to the so called baby factories, where some shameless individuals shield these pregnant teenagers from the public and then sell the babies after delivery,” she said.
Ms. Nwosu regretted that some mothers encouraged their daughters to go for abortion to avoid shame.
“In all, women are indicted. While one does not encourage teenage sexual involvement; when pregnancy occurs, it is wise to take care of your girl than to send her out of home to the waiting hands of commercial baby factory operators,” she said.
As suggested by experts and stakeholders, government should enforce existing laws on the rights of the child. The police and other security agencies should also check the activities of illegal operators of maternity homes, now turned baby factories. (NANFeatures)
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