LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 10am

More Baby Hatches, More Social Problems?

There has been a rise of baby dumping cases in the nation. Pic: malaysiansmustknowthetruth.blogspot.comThere has been a rise of baby dumping cases in the nation. Pic: malaysiansmustknowthetruth.blogspot.comIt is truly heartbreaking whenever news emerge of a small, innocent baby being dumped in places that you could never imagine!

Baby dumping is not a new social issue. Neither is it an issue confined to just our country. Statistics from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry show that while the number of cases in Malaysia dropped slightly from 2008 to 2009, the numbers have been climbing steadily since 2010.

Over 26 baby dumping cases were reported during the first quarter of 2014 according to the Ministry of Woman, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun in Parliament.

In recent news, The Malay Mail reported three baby-dumping cases over the span of less than a week in three locations. Even more shocking, at least 10 fetuses were found within a year in the Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) sewage plant according to Kosmo Ahad.

However, it is easy to condemn the mothers who abandon their child but this approach only leads to further prosecution and escalation of the problem. Let us put ourselves in the shoes of someone who has found herself in such a situation where she feels that she has exhausted all other options and the only way is to give up the baby.

Sofia first had her baby when was just 19 years old. For illustration purposes. Pic: jomjadibijak.blogspot.comSofia first had her baby when was just 19 years old. For illustration purposes. Pic: jomjadibijak.blogspot.comToo painful to regret…

Sofia (not her real name) first found out that she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child at the age of 19. 

“I was easily influenced during my younger age. I was lost in the wildness until I got myself pregnant. I did not know about it until I was already 4 months pregnant. Thankfully, my boyfriend decided to be responsible about it,” said Sofia.

“Nobody knew I was pregnant during the whole time I was in university. I was so scared if my parents would find out. My life was basically upside down,”

Sofia and her boyfriend used their study loans and part-time jobs salary to support her monthly check-up in a private clinic and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in 2003 at the same clinic.

“I didn’t go to the hospital because I heard from people that mothers who gave birth out of wedlock will be detained and the babies will be taken away by the Social Welfare Department (JKM) to be given to a foster family,” 

“I cried almost every night thinking on what the future would be for my daughter’s sake. The whole time I was taking care of her, I knew at that moment that my motherly instinct makes me want to keep my baby,” shared Sofia.  

Sofia had her confinement period on her own with the help of her boyfriend and close friends. It was only then that she decided to confront her mother and all hell broke loose upon her confession of pregnancy and birth to her mother. 

“My mum couldn’t take it. She was furious because I didn’t have an abortion when I first found out. I told that her it was already a little too late and acknowledged that mistake that we both had done,”

Sofia’s father did not know about her pregnancy and her mother objected her decision to get married and raise the baby, as it will only bring disgrace to her father and their family’s dignity. 

She was devastated with the decision but came to realize that it was for the best for her daughter to have a much better life with another family. That was when she finally came to the painful decision to give away her baby daughter.

“Getting pregnant out of wedlock is all because of our own mistake. It saddens me when other mothers out there abandon their babies due to the lack of support,”

“Those babies are innocent; they are not the ones who should be blamed. I believe that other mums should accept the truth and be strong in facing your mistake,” 

“I’ve always told myself that there will be a lot of things that I will regret in the future. Now that I have my own family, I teach my kids with a lot of religious guidance and moral values so that they won’t make the same mistake as I done,” as she expressed.

Sofia shared with Malaysian Digest that her child has grown beautifully and is an active and smart student in her school. The now 11-year-old girl is also a role model among her peers in school.

“I do regret with what happened. I do not hope that my child will come back to me. To me, her life would be much better without me,”

“Even if one day she will ever come to me, I will accept whatever that will happen as that is what I should deserve for my past actions,” she said.

OrphanCare's Project Admin, Syarhah Mohamed Tahir demonstrating the baby hatch at their centre in Petaling Jaya. Pic: mDOrphanCare's Project Admin, Syarhah Mohamed Tahir demonstrating the baby hatch at their centre in Petaling Jaya. Pic: mDBaby Hatches: Offering hope to those who have run out of options

OrphanCare, a non-profit non-government organization (NGO) was established in 2008 under the patronage of HRH Sultanah Pahang, Sultanah Hajjah Kaslom that provides an alternative for unwed mothers and a safe haven for babies rather than being abandoned. 

Many might assume OrphanCare as another orphanage centre but it is actually a transit centre for the adoption process of abandoned babies and orphans. OrphanCare operates in Petaling Jaya, Johor Baru and Kota Baru at present.

The organization launched Malaysia’s first baby hatch in 2010 to help reduce the increasing rate of baby dumping cases and later became a foundation in 2012. The baby hatches became into public dispute as it was claimed to encourage out of wedlock babies and abandonment of newborns.  

OrphanCare’s Project Admin, Syarhah Mohamed Tahir said there are many factors that contribute to the rise of baby dumping in Malaysia.

“Some parents are in denial when they find out that their daughters are pregnant out of wedlock,”

“We’re not saying that society should be ‘relaxed’ and let young people do whatever they want, but if the damage has been done, we shouldn’t judge them too hard until they feel pressured to throw their babies away,”  

“People need to understand the importance of sex education, it’s not about teaching them how to have sex but more about giving exposure at earlier developmental stages so they can protect themselves against pedophiles and pre-marital sex,” said Syarhah.

Peer pressure is another factor that contributes to baby dumping other than financial stability.

The baby hatch. Pic: mDThe baby hatch. Pic: mD“People who come to OrphanCare are from all sorts of background. About 50% comprise of young girls and students, the rest consists of single mothers and abandoned by their husbands who couldn’t afford to raise their children,”  

One thing that OrphanCare would like to emphasize to young mothers out there that it is not a crime to put their unwanted babies in the hatch as that will keep the child alive.

“We have a caretaker at the centre who will be alerted by the alarm in the baby hatch that will immediately take the baby to the hospital for a medical check-up within 24 hours,” explained Syarhah on the baby hatch operating procedure. 

OrphanCare’s other initiatives

Other than providing facilities of adoption process, counseling and awareness about baby dumping, Syarhah said that OrphanCare gives talks and campaigns in schools and universities to promote the awareness through Gen Y’s current it thing, the social media.

“Most young people are very open-minded, so it is important to give them the right education. Even with just a small talk about baby hatch is already helping in spreading the awareness,” she said.

OrphanCare will also collaborate with KPJ Healthcare Berhad (KPJ) to provide 10 baby hatches at KPJ hospitals nationwide in which a memorandum of understanding will be signed on this October 10th according to a recent Bernama news report.

“We also encourage young people to become volunteers at our foundation,”  

“At the end of the day, every one of us has to do something about it. We cannot expect the government, NGOs or authorities to do everything. Youngsters also need to learn and be aware on their life choices,” added Syarhah.

Since its setup in 2010, 103 babies had been adopted and 64 babies have been returned to their biological mothers and currently there are 3,770 applications for baby adoption.

Dumping your babies will not solve the problem. For illustration purposes. Pic: www.cbsnews.comDumping your babies will not solve the problem. For illustration purposes. Pic: www.cbsnews.comIsn’t prevention better than cure?

The Reproductive and Social Health Programme (Pekerti) co-curriculum activity in schools was started in 2012 in 33 schools for Year Six, Form Three and Special Education classes.  In 2014, Training for Trainers (TOT) course was also carried out at three primary, secondary and special education schools in September 2014, according to Deputy Minister of Woman, Family and Community Development, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun as quoted in an online news portal. Only time will tell if these preventive education measures will have more effective results in future.

However, we can’t keep on pointing fingers to anyone as it all comes back to ourselves. Of course family upbringing and a strong foundation of religious values are important but once a mistake is done, there is no turning back.

Society needs to adopt a much broader mindset so that people who are going through this situation will not be prosecuted but instead helped to make a better choice in life rather than having a life full with regrets for their actions.



- mD