Be Smart About South Africa

Nigeria’s Young Mothers Take Desperate Measures

The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip) says many young girls in south-eastern Nigeria have been drawn into a lucrative trade in baby trafficking. According to the agency, girls involved in the trade are known as “social mothers”. Impoverished young women with nowhere else to turn and who have no access to abortion or antenatal care are being targeted. Traffickers pose as social workers, offering help to pregnant women who need support. In reality, Naptip says they are frontmen and women in the business of selling babies to couples or to middlemen. They typically charge $1,500 for a baby girl and $2,000 for a boy. Stories of baby trading are not uncommon in Nigeria, where at least 10 children are reportedly sold across the country every day. Each year several children – including nearly two dozen freed in February – are rescued by security forces from traffickers, most of whom operate in the south of the country. The majority of those trafficked are children of young women held captive until their babies are born and then released, their babies sold on. Naptip says cases involving social mothers are increasing in the region.


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