Do you know that in Ghana some parents give birth just for the purpose of selling the babies for as low as GH¢25?
According to the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Afisah Djaba, ‘Baby factory’, the practice of deliberately giving birth to a large number of children just to sell them, was gradually emerging in the country,
Preliminary investigation by the ministry, she said, had shown that some parents, especially those in the rural areas, engaged in the practice and, sometimes, sold the babies for as low as GH¢25.
“We held a programme at Senya Breku last year and we found out that some parents have a kind of ‘baby factory’ where they deliberately give birth to a lot of children, so that they can sell them for as little as GH¢25.
“This is unacceptable; poverty is no excuse to sell a child off. That child is for Ghana,’’ she said.
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Ms Djaba made the revelation at a sensitisation workshop on adoption and human trafficking for justices of the High Court selected from the southern sector of the country in Accra yesterday.
A similar workshop is expected to be organised in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region for High Court judges in the northern sector later.
The event, which was attended by the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, was organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute (JTI), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
It was designed to sensitise the participants to the various conventions and laws governing adoption and the laws and mechanisms used to combat human trafficking and illegal adoption.
It is yet to be established if Ms Djaba’s comments put Ghana in the same league as other countries where ‘baby factories’ are connected to human trafficking and other related organised crimes.
Elsewhere, ‘baby factories’ are run by mafia groups and crime syndicates that sell the children for illegal adoption, child labour and child prostitution.
Sometimes the crime syndicates harvest the organs of the children and sell the organs on the international organ black market or sell the children for rituals.
On May 10, 2013, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) published a news item about the rescue of 17 teenagers and 11 babies from a ‘baby factory’ in the Imo State in the south-eastern part of Nigeria.
The rescued girls, according to the article, were all impregnated by a 23-year-old man who was a member of a ‘baby factory’ syndicate.
The Daily Mail, on December 22, 2006, published an article that gave an insight into a mafia-operated ‘baby factory’.
According to the article, most of the factories were run on a demand-and-supply basis.
Immediately an order for a baby is made, a beautiful girl is selected, either through kidnapping or enticement, to produce the baby. She is impregnated by a member of the mafia racketeer and then housed and catered for until her delivery.
The delivery is not done in a hospital but rather a make-shift maternity room run by a hired trained midwife.
After the mother gives birth, the baby is sold at a very high price to a customer. The customer could be a desperate rich couple in search of a baby, prostitution cartels, among other customers.
Ms Djaba advised parents to desist from selling their children, describing the act as “modern-day slavery”.
“We want to help parents understand that they don’t have to sell their children. If you have problems taking care of your children, the Social Welfare Department is there to help. In areas of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, we could support you with cash,’’ she said.
In order to protect the interests of children, the minister said, the government had put in place stringent laws to prevent people from illegal adoption of children.
She mentioned the amendment of the provisions on foster care and adoption in the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) in 2016 as one of such measures.
The amendments, she said, included limiting the granting of adoption orders only to the High Court, the revocation of fraudulently procured adoption orders and the prohibition of the unilateral placement of children in foster care and adoption.
According to Ms Djaba, the government would soon place new regulations before Parliament to ensure the registration of foster parents and the licensing of foster care and adoption agencies.
Another measure, she said, was the establishment of a central adoption authority to co-ordinate adoptions in Ghana and administer inter-country adoption, in line with the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation of inter-country adoption
“Adoption is not the right of a person who desires to have a child placed with him/her. It is a legal and permanent way of providing a new family for a child who finds himself in a situation that is found to make it impossible for him to live with his own family,’’ she said.
In her remarks, Ms Justice Akuffo said human trafficking, illegal adoption, ‘baby factory’ and adoption under false colours were connected and, as such, they must all be classified as slavery.
“Human trafficking and illegal adoptions are connected to international organised crimes. They are never isolated. The people who operate illegal adoption are part of the chain that leads to human trafficking,’’ she said.
The Chief Justice, therefore, appealed to judges to be extra vigilant and sensitive when approving adoption requests.
“Let us be careful when we are approving the adoption of the children of this land. They are too precious,’’ she said.