Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shutting Down The Baby Factory

The recent flood of legislation and proposed legislation rolling back the rights of women coming from the Republicans- dubbed the 'War on Women'- is pretty well-documented by this point. Typically when something is as well-covered as that, we steer clear of it here.

But as bad and as threatening as it is in America, there's something in Nigeria far, far worse. Earlier this month, officials raided an illegal orphanage that has been dubbed a 'baby factory', where women were made to give birth to children that were then immediately taken away with the aim of selling them. Seven women between the ages of 18 and 20 were rescued by authorities, one of which said she had been lured in hoping to be able to get an abortion, but was offered money to stay and have the child. The article notes that this is not a unique occurrence in Nigeria, noting two other baby factories broken up in the past year.

Setting aside the sheer horror of their mere existence, the end result is something Nigeria can ill afford. Overpopulation has reached such extreme levels in not only Nigeria but the rest of sub-Saharan Africa that some households see as many as 50 people sharing one toilet, one kitchen and one sink, households known as 'Face Me, Face You'. Tanzania, Malawi and Rwanda, among other sub-Saharan nations, are considering legislation increasing abortion rights if for no other reason than to bring the birth rate down and ease the pressure on scarce resources. (Not to mention that some women are just getting abortions one way or another whether it's legal or not, often dying in the process because the abortion they did get was conducted unsafely.)

In order to do that, though, they must also change attitudes concerning family planning. Part of it is due to the simple fact that many of the children don't survive, and the more children they have, the better chance they have that some will survive and continue the family line. However, it's also due to the fact that among many, prestige among mothers is directly proportional to the number of children. According to the New York Times article linked earlier, some cultures only give mothers a say in village meetings after child number 11.

Put that in perspective. You know how much we all got disgusted by Octomom, Nadya Suleman? In some parts of Africa, she would have been celebrated; after all, that got her up to 14 children. Not to mention the Duggars. Their kind of behavior is the exact thing that many African families aspire to.

Or, failing that, what some Nigerians try to force.

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