Teens Locked Up and Forced to Give Birth to Kids Sold into Slavery -- How Can This Happen, and What Can We Do About It?
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These might have been salient points for the BBC to touch upon in its coverage of this issue, especially since four years after they first reported on baby farms, here we are with no discernible change. Alas.
Given rightful sensitivities about how Africa and Africans are portrayed by almost everyone else in the world and/or especially the global media, the BBC needs to check the caliber of their coverage. For starters, the 2011 article on “baby farms,” includes at least one typo, and a sentence cribbed verbatim from the 2008 piece. It’s not clear where or when the awful phrase “baby farm” was coined, but I must say that’s macabre marketing genius right there. BBC’s use of the term in its title is sensationalistic – link baiting even – and distracts from the complexity and gravity of the issue.
Human trafficking, human rights abuses, false imprisonment, reproductive choice, I mean there’s a lot to take in here. This is a highly disturbing scenario, but only further perverted by the use of this phrase. While there are human rights and human lives at stake here, the term caricatures a complex set of issues, and objectifies those involved – the babies, the young women, and even Nigeria itself.
For some readers perusing this eye-catching article (also covered in the New York Daily News, natch), this may be their first introduction to social justice or health issues in Nigeria. Let’s see what they’ll get: baby farm, witchcraft, desperate, poverty, corruption, crime, and savagery. The article “otherizes” these issues, painting Nigeria as a horrid place where such a ghastly things occur.
Yet, this notion of using pregnancy as a fulcrum for manipulating women is not so “other,” not so savage and foreign after all. It happens all over the world, and it happens right here in the US. For instance, increased discussion and examination of crisis pregnancy centers is revealing just how manipulative and coercive their tactics can be. Who do they often target? Poor, desperate young women with unwanted pregnancies. In addition, one could argue that, in fact, no one is more immersed in finding ways to manipulate women via reproductive rights than the US Congress.
BBC states the obvious: “poor, unmarried women face tough choices if they get pregnant in Nigeria.” Um, yes. I think we can safely substitute any country in the world in that sentence and it would read just as true. In fact, we can say that young women face tremendous reproductive health challenges all over the world. Now that we know this, what are we going to do about it?