Biological Colonialism in Nigeria

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on August 10, 2015

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In an article that reads more like fiction that it does news, a prominent Nigerian has expressed his support of the practice of surrogacy and his puzzlement over Nigeria’s prohibition of it.

According to Reno Omokri, “Every civilized nation accepts and promotes this practice as a humane option for childless couples.”

Sadly—though perhaps unsurprisingly—Mr. Omokri seems blissfully unaware of the true international outrage over the practice or the fact that Nigeria is already a target of biological colonialism and the legalization of surrogacy would only further contribute to this.

For starters, acceptance of surrogacy is no marker of a civilized society. In fact, that’s why it’s prohibited in many countries throughout Europe and various states in the U.S. It’s westerners looking to exploit the developing world that promote surrogacy as a means of social progress, but as the Baby Gammy case in Thailand and the women who have died through surrogacy in India illustrate, the practice is built upon the exploitation of the poor and places vulnerable women and children at risk.

Furthermore, as Mr. Omokri fails to mention, his fellow citizens have already been exploited through the practice of egg donation, where young Nigerian women, sometimes 11 or 12 years of age, have been coerced into selling their eggs for a sometimes as little as $12 USD. Compare that to the thousands of dollars young women in the U.S. are incentivized with to sell their eggs. This is nothing short of biological colonialism where the rich can afford to buy and they prey on the weak to sell.

A true marker of civilization is a country whose laws and its people work to protect the most vulnerable and weakest among them. By prohibiting surrogacy, Nigeria actually sets an example to the rest of the world to follow. Mr. Omokri’s proposal would only reverse that.

Image by Niko Knigge via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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