Abandonment of unwanted babies needs short and long term solutions
There is wide spread reporting in print media regarding unwanted babies being dumped on road sides, drains, garbage bins, places of worship door steps and welfare homes. The ministry of welfare and women affairs has responded with knee jerk proposals to these serious media reporting of dumping of new born babies. It is also surprising that the national council for the protection of children established after the enactment of national child Act 2001 is silence on these serious matter.
These problem of unwanted babies being ditched are faced my many developed countries too. The rapid urbanization and easy availability of phonographic materials in internets have emboldened and exposed the younger people to try what was forbidden by social norms. Once they are trapped by the problem they seem to have no qualms about what to do. Ministries of education and welfare and women affairs have to take the initiative to get rid of this menace from our society.
National council for the protection of children must act proactively both in the short and longer term to eliminate if not reduce this social problem. As an immediate action national council can propose the setting of safe havens in hospital, welfare homes etc for mothers who are caught in this quagmire to hand over unwanted babies rather than abandon. For this proposal to be successful community based NGOs must provide 24 hours hotlines counseling service for distressed mothers to reach out. Mothers who hand over their unwanted babies to safe haven should not be prosecuted but mothers and fathers who abandon their babies other than safe havens should be prosecuted. The short-term goal is to save babies’ lives and to instill confidence and provide hope to mothers who are caught in this predicament.
But over the longer period the goal is to prevent situations like this from occurring in which babies’ lives would be at risk. Ministry of welfare and women affairs has to probe into the root cause of this social problem in which many youths are caught in. Impartial researches and collection of data on unwanted relinquishment of babies will aid in the development of prevention strategies and long term solutions to the problem abandonment. For a start we need clear definition of what is meant by abandonment of unwanted babies.
Ministry of welfare and women affairs can come out with laws that provide guidance over the setting up of safe havens, anonymity to mothers to relinquish an unharmed baby at a designated location without fear of violating the law and empower the safe havens to provide certain basic services to the child like adoption, protection from any liability for safe havens etc. Successful implementation of the law and its enforcement depends on financial, human resources and legal expertise in handling this social problem.
Since many high school students have been subjected to unwanted pregnancies, ministry of education must respond to the call to introduce sexuality education. This may mean preventing pregnancy or providing services and counseling to students experiencing unwanted pregnancies to ensure that they have someone to talk to and share their predicament.