Why The Skin Bleaching Epidemic Should Be Considered a Humanitarian Crisis When Unborn Babies Are At Risk

“A humanitarian crisis (or “humanitarian disaster”) is defined as a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well being of a community or large group of people. … Humanitarian crises can either be natural disasters, man-made disasters or complex emergencies.”

The epidemic of skin bleaching has evolved into a heightened catastrophe that falls into the category of “complex emergencies” and therefore needs the guidance and support of agencies that provide humanitarian aid in order for the process of eradication to be initiated.

Growing up in Lagos — Nigeria — I was privy to the widespread virus that victimized mostly women who felt the urgency to lighten their skin complexion as a way to increase their chances of marrying into a respectable family. Nigerian men were trained to reserve their appetites for a full-bodied woman who can issue egusi soup with her eyes closed — and also outshine her husband in the ways that count. This means sporting a sleek hue that guarantees the effortless ability to stand out.

My personal experience exposed bias from friends of my parents who were always quick to point out how much I resembled by lighter-skinned mother — except for the fact that she was blessed with the currency of superiority.

Back then it seemed like the practice of skin bleaching — as prevalent as it was — would eventually die out with future generations — who were spending more time abroad. The hope was that this exposure would help to auto-correct the mindset that was inherited from an era — that not only invaded our territories and cultures — but also reduced our senses to a puddle of systematic incoherency — that was purposely and callously assigned to an already vulnerable legacy.

Damaged skin from extensive bleaching

It’s not a coincidence that the countries (Nigeria, Ghana and India) that are the most affected by this life-threatening ailment can claim the British Empire as their former colonial masters — with the exception of Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa.

According to a 2009 report from Global Industry Analysts — the skin-lightening business has blossomed into a $10 billion industry. In 2015 — the GIA forecasted that in the year 2020 — we could be looking at a major increase that could turn a profit of over $23 billion.

The Asia-Pacific, Caribbean, Middle East and Latin America markets have become the driving force when it comes to high demand for these products that contain dangerous levels of the skin-lightening agent — “hydroquinone.”

Almost all skin-lighteners contain hydroquinone as the main ingredient — but the ones that are sold in drug stores don’t come with the risk of “permanent scarring” or other debilitating side effects — that cause serious health issues. This is due to the low dosage of this chemical that has been confirmed as a potential carcinogen — which means that long-term use could potentially increase your chances of being diagnosed with cancer — later in life.

This explains why countries like Japan, Australia and the European Union have taken steps to restrict the importation of products that contain carcinogen. Three African countries (Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa) have also followed suit — by adhering to the recommendations of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) when it comes to heavily monitoring the supply of bleaching creams that pose a threat to consumers.

It’s alarming that Ghana took the initiative towards a permanent cure when you consider the latest heartbreaking headlines that once again sheds light on how and why the issue of colorism goes far beyond the shocking images of Lil’ Kim — and all the other notables who’ve committed to the lifelong quest of maintaining their “lightened” status.

It was recently reported that young women in Ghana have acquired a new habit that is appallingly irresponsible and incredibly dangerous — and this time — the stakes are higher because of the innocent lives that are in jeopardy. Expectant mothers are now resorting to extreme measures by ingesting pills that promise to lighten the skin of their babies.

Obviously this is a form of abuse by the hands of women who are too blinded by their selfish and misguided pursuits to even comprehend the magnitude of their actions and how it will lead to dire results.

The culprit in this tragedy is a pill known as — glutathione — and the Ghanaian arm of the FDA has determined that pregnant women that partake of it — are guilty of increasing their chances of giving birth to babies with birth defects that include “damage to limbs and internal organs.”

Unfortunately this disgusting habit doesn’t just involve village women who are hampered by limited or no education. According to the data that has been collected from the still ongoing investigation — this awful trend “crosses socio-economic divides.”

This means that even the sophisticated women that dwell in urban settings are also working with smugglers who risk it all to bring these lethal tablets into the country — in large amounts — to satisfy the massive demand for them.

There are measures in place by the Ghanaian security agencies and law enforcement to help intercept these illegal drugs as they make their way into airports and other ports of entry. There’s also the companies and individual sellers that are profiting from activities that carry a death sentence for consumers — and the penalties that are now in place to ensure that they will be persecuted — accordingly.

But — further steps have to be taken by global organizations that are instituted to ensure the “health, safety or well being of a community or large group of people.”

It’s time to take this worldwide epidemic seriously instead of downplaying how the effects of its existence and overwhelming influence could affect the general population.

Children in war torn countries are crippled by the fate of their heritage — which is a disposition that can’t be easily remedied — but babies weren’t conceived for the punishment of being mutilated in the womb — by a disease that was borne from the slave mentality that colonizers used as a weapon to threaten natives into submission.

The abominable sins of the White man towards people of color can’t be reduced to history lessons and the unfairness of world trade that still unapologetically benefits economic powers at the expense of countries that provide the resources in abundance — and yet can’t seem to recover from the extensive time spent in captivity.

The time has come to pay back the incalculable debt that is pending with increasing interests that needs to be settled with a massive sense of urgency.

What is happening in Ghana with mothers killing their babies for the sake of a privilege that was force fed into their consciousness — is a symptom of how much damage has been exacted into the psyche of a population — that has spent centuries trying to Whiten their prospects for the approval of those who terminally infected them in the first place.

Unborn babies are at risk — and the world can’t ignore this horrific event by watching it unfold without any input or incentive to drastically conquer this virus before it overtakes us.

Bleaching babies that are still in development is an unbearable reality that shouldn’t even be considered — but unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of viewing such a thing as a hypothetical.

It’s actually happening as we speak and the time to take action — is now!

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