Okechukwu Maximus Ndianaefo: The merits of child trafficking

May 19, 2013 / Ynaija.com  (30 Days, 30 Voices)

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change – Wayne Dyer

The issue of child trafficking has raised furore over the years, especially in Nigeria, which has been described as the source, transit and destination points for child trafficking (according to Wikipedia) with the nation’s leaders through respective agencies like National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) promulgating laws to hinder and ultimately stop this source of ‘child abuse’ as we have come to know and believe it as so, thanks to western media.

Now, it is interesting to know that every average Nigerian household, whether based in the rural or urban area of this nation benefits from house helps – that is another term for them. The urban family’s needs them to;

a) Do household chores, b) be baby sitters, c) help in family owned local trade and services, etc; while the rural based counterparts needs these children for a.) household chores, b) help in a subsistence farming setting, c) help in family owned trade and services, which can all be termed as domestic servitude.

These children are usually paid stipends which are remitted to their parents or guardians in a prearranged agreement or they are sent to school, most often the evening class version in other to accommodate their work schedules; then some are allowed to learn trade and services after which they are given funds to start up their own businesses.

Yet they are called the modern day slaves and the difference being that they weren’t carted away as spoils of war nor were they sold out on absolute terms or shipped away in bellies of ships. They left at their own accord, most times with their parent’s consent and an agreement in place. They are sometimes allowed holidays back to their birth places, granted permission to call home. Also, their ‘new masters’ are subject to visit parents or send money in cases of emergency to these houses helps families.

So, why this furore? Let us note that there exist none, or efficient welfare system in Nigeria given to parents of numerous children (deliberately borne to help in farming settlements which our present economy has put paid to) or ailing parents, and these give rise to child labour in order to assist them. These children become ‘slaves’ in their birth homes first and exploited due to the economic state of their families.

It is noteworthy that these abused children has helped improved the economies of their respective families back home one way or the other. They have also benefited themselves by living under improved lifestyles and conditions, that translates to being better spoken, better dressed, better educated, better fed and learnt to know their way through and around host families, cities and communities.

IN turn, this once a child slave that had been ‘successfully’ trafficked, would grow to become an avenue in which others like them would embark on to emigrate to better living conditions and life style. It has been a continuous cycle, and in Nigeria, it will continually remain so unless these government and their agencies does something drastically to our average daily income and opportunities.

The Western nations pays child benefits to parents and also to foster parents till the child attain the age of 20 years. Also, schooling is a must for a child till s/he reaches the ages of 14-15 years after which the said child can decide if s/he wants to continue or not.

The laughable aspect on these matters are the fact that if one goes to any of the agitators of child trafficking censure, you will find a child that is not theirs biologically living with them for one reason or the other.

The question now is when do these child trafficking with all these stated merits ceases to be right and end up being so wrong the government budget billions and receive more in aids to fight same.

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Okechukwu Maximus Ndianaefo, is a trained Economist and a Business Development Manager of a private firm in Lagos. I love writing and
would love to take it up professionally, and my hobbies are reading, tweeting and watching football. I am the individual behind @2dmaxo and @maxndianaefo.

30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.

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WHY is this on PPL?

Some may wonder WHY is a piece showcasing the merits of child trafficking on a site like PPL.

I was struck by the way in which the piece begins:  If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change.

Many times I hear members of the pro-adoption community make outrageous claims that they strongly admonish anything related to child trafficking and follow that generic stance with the claim that ICA is very different and does not, in any way, share any of the criminal activity that often seen and associated with child trafficking.

In many ways, these arrogant adopters are correct.  And in many ways these ignorant adopters are incorrect.

The above author explains,

it is interesting to know that every average Nigerian household, whether based in the rural or urban area of this nation benefits from house helps – that is another term for them. The urban family’s needs them to;

a) Do household chores, b) be baby sitters, c) help in family owned local trade and services, etc; while the rural based counterparts needs these children for a.) household chores, b) help in a subsistence farming setting, c) help in family owned trade and services, which can all be termed as domestic servitude.

This day-to-day house-and-family policy is very true in many homes here in the USA. 

But note the difference between trafficked child-slaves v. adopted children obtained through an adoption agency that may or may not be accredited

  •  In an ICA plan, an enormous amount of cash fees are expected to be paid to finders, facilitators, orphanage directors, not to mention licensed professionals like social workers, doctors and lawyers all serving a court. 
  • Rarely is criminal activity (child abduction, child-stealingkidnapping, or coercion) monitored or checked. 
  • Even more rare is severe punishment imposed on the person or persons associated with said activity.  
  •  In many cases, the use of an orphanage is meant to be deliberate and temporary, meaning, the parents have every intention of retrieving their placed child, once that child is old enough to return home and help with family duties.  [In other words, many children living in an orphanage are NOT orphans, as so many within the pro-adoption community want them to be.]
  • The child exported to a foreign country via an ICA plan is NOT allowed to leave Nigeria on his/her own accord or choice, but is instead forced far away... often with altered/falsified documents.
  • Often times this child is NOT allowed holidays back to their birthplaces. 
  • Often times the birthparents are NOT receiving money or updates by the new "masters"
  • Many times the children "put to work" are often NOT given a monthly stipend that could be sent to the living and impoverished family members back home. 
  • Depending on the adoption-plan, and type of adoptive parent, many children ARE expected to perform chores in and around the house, without any form of financial reward or allowance.
  • Many adopted children ARE kept from an education.  In fact, in the most extreme cases, many are severely abused - or killed - by intolerant abusive home-schooling APs
  • In many cases, the living conditions are NOT improved because the adopted child is being tortured, disciplined, and put through hell, due to "unwanted behavioral issues".

In short, these abused adopted children "helped" by an adoption-plan are NOT improving the economies of their respective families back home one way or the other. They are NOT benefitting themselves by living under improved lifestyles and conditions, and they are NOT becoming better spoken, better dressed, better educated, better fed and all-round better people.  In fact, many are so maladjusted, so tortured and so messed-up in the heart, spirit and head, they become addicts with severe mental health issues.  Many end-up in prison, or mental institutions. All because the "better" adoption plan made on a child's behalf failed on every single level imaginable.

The author ends his op-ed with:

The laughable aspect on these matters are the fact that if one goes to any of the agitators of child trafficking censure, you will find a child that is not theirs biologically living with them for one reason or the other.

The question now is when do these child trafficking with all these stated merits ceases to be right and end up being so wrong the government budget billions and receive more in aids to fight same.

My response is, with all the ills and concerns that go with child trafficking and all that it represents in the minds of so many, we need to recognize the way in which the economics of ICA programs and the government budgets that support them are hurting parents, children, and the communities surrounding them. 

Billions of dollars are spent each year  to help serve adopters, but so very little time, money and attention is given to the long-term effects a poor adoption plan has on it's children.  For those who don't know, those problems and associated issues can be permanent in the life of the wrongfully adopted "orphan".

The fiscal waste that goes into poor adoption plans and services is not limited to those most personally affected by adoption.

In news-media outlets from around the globe I keep reading how various family advocates are urging government officials to look at the underlying reason why so many cannot care for their children.  These advocates are asking those in positions of power to explain why is it the very much needed family support programs in poverty stricken areas not being provided for a people.

The response is often a resounding sound of crickets chirping.

The politicians of the pro-adoption community may claim they care about the effects of poverty and neglect on a child, and yet the truth is, so many still fail to see how child trafficking for adoption is only making the wrongs caused by isolation, greed, and poverty so much worse for everyone touched by a crooked and unmonitored ICA plan.  I see no merit in any of this.

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