"Baby harvesting" and trafficking: An evolving menace in Ghana and beyond

"Baby harvesting" and trafficking: An evolving menace in Ghana and beyond

On January 20, 2021, a joint press statement was published by the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) on “baby harvesting” and trafficking in our beloved country, Ghana.

It came to light in the press release that a team from these two institutions, the MDC and EOCO between the periods of June to November 2020 had been investigating the activities of some medical practitioners, nurses, social welfare officers, and other individuals who were suspected to be engaged in the illegal act of baby harvesting and human trafficking.

As a result of these investigations, some culprits have been apprehended. The investigation revealed that a baby boy was sold to the team for an amount of 30,000 Ghana cedis and another baby was to be sold for 28,000 Ghana cedis after an agreement was made by one of the culprits assuring to aid the team in acquiring another baby.

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"Baby harvesting" or trafficking: An evolving menace in Ghana and beyond
"Baby harvesting" or trafficking: An evolving menace in Ghana and beyond
Source: UGC

This is a very barbaric and unlawful practice thus I applaud the team of investigators and strongly consent to them taking further collaborative steps as indicated to protect public health and safety by preventing and detecting such organized crime.

It will be worthy to note that the culprits are dealt with rigorously per the law and not let off the hook.

A lack of communication and awareness creation about baby harvesting and trafficking makes women more susceptible to this evolving menace.

As an Activist for women and children with my vision anchored on advancing issues concerning women and children as well as a mission of better outcomes for this same group, I take a keen interest in this press release and this subject of relevance.

In my quest to ensure the realization of this vision and mission, I have sought to educate all mothers, potential mothers, and society in general on this inhumane act to avoid naivety of these issues.

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Baby trafficking is steadily establishing itself in many African countries. The existence of baby factories where young women of childbearing age are forcefully impregnated with the aim of selling the babies is also of much concern and an ongoing practice.

These serve as an avenue to create wealth for the perpetrators whilst subjecting the mother and baby to indescribable trauma and ineffable abuse.

Reports indicate that several of these babies are sold illegally to adoptive parents locally and internationally.

Some of these babies are trafficked for prostitution when older, abused through child labor, used for ritual purposes, and sometimes have their organs harvested for sale.

The leading and root causes of “baby harvesting” and trafficking include but are not limited to childlessness, poverty, high unemployment rates, and lack of ethical behavior of health care "professionals".

It is surprising to notice that in some countries, pregnant women are abducted and their babies sold.

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During childbirth, some expectant mothers are informed their babies could not survive when in fact, the babies have been exchanged or sold to third parties.

Meanwhile, it is also established that some of these pregnant women are rather responsive to demand as they are enticed with false promises of jobs, money, decent accommodation, travel opportunities abroad, etc in exchange for their babies.

To my fellow women, are these enticing offers worth the life of your baby? Certainly not!

The following preventative approaches are highly recommended:

Pregnant mothers must be extremely vigilant as "baby factories" are usually disguised as maternity homes, clinics, etc with the traffickers being or posing as medical doctors, nurses, social workers, traditional birth attendants, to mention but few.

Pregnant mothers must not be ignorant of the fact that this hideous crime is on the rise and affects multiple victims, hence the need to exercise extreme vigilance in seeking maternal care.

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Practical strategies must be established to increase awareness, advance understanding, and support efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to “baby harvesting” and trafficking.

This mounts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to embark on some occasional publicity broadcast on this issue. Honorable Minister, a charge to keep you have.

Counseling can also be used as a tool whereby childless couples are taken through counseling and encouraged to go through the right channel for proper adoption service at the social welfare department and also seek proper medical care to ascertain their ability to give birth or otherwise.

More so, there should be the establishment of transparent mechanisms for adoption processes as well as an improvement in policies and legislation in this field.

The youth of childbearing age must also be taken through comprehensive counseling, mentorship, and coaching to help them develop a positive self-image and also desist from trading their babies for money or other offers.

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Sufficient funding should be allocated and distributed to relevant organizations to help create massive anti-trafficking awareness campaigns and programs regarding this canker and its dangers to victims.

It will be worthy of applause to engage law enforcement lawyers and reputable law firms to handle “baby harvesting” and trafficking cases on a pro bono basis with special training for judges in this area of concern so that victims of such injustice can seek legal assistance at absolutely zero cost and also without any form of hindrance.

I am of the firm belief that if the above recommendations are adhered to and upheld, this evolving menace of “baby harvesting” and trafficking will be nipped in the bud with significant progress in Ghana.

Ubuntu; I am because you are.

Together, let us take pragmatic steps to curb this menace.

Article By:

Joyce Ohenewaa Kwapong

Diplomatic Fellow; Federation of International Gender and Human Rights.

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Visioneer; Women of Legacy Foundation.

E-mail: joycekwapong@gmail.com

Facebook/ Instagram: Joyce Ohenewaa Kwapong

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