Society must be unwavering in condemning baby dumping as the most despicable and heinous act that any human is capable of. There’s no question that it must be categorised as a crime equivalent to murder if it results in the death of  the infant.

The degree of criminality can be seen as surpassing even that of murder if one considers the fact that the perpetrator’s intent would have been motivated by completely selfish considerations such as the shame of discovery or the fear of resonsibility. Treating a newborn child like a piece of thrash to be discarded is a monstrous act on the part of the parents and/ or their accomplices no matter how much emotional or psychological pressure they are facing. They have committed a crime for which they must be charged accordingly and face the legal consequences of their action.

The frequency with which baby dumping is occurring points to a complete breakdown in moral values among a sector of the community viz the irresponsible people whose sexual activities result in the conception and birth of a child which they decide to abandon. The common argument is that they are mainly young and unmarried with a commitment to complete their education in school or college, or even at work. They are rejected by their parents and family and have no resources of their own to raise a child. They are judged by the community and are too scared to approach the health authorities or welfare bodies who may be able to assist. Their only recourse is to abandon the infant dead or alive for fear that their lives will be adversely affected. They casually dump the foetus or infants into drains and rubbish heaps, or “mercifully” leave them in places where there’s a chance they will be found. 

We are aghast that for all our modernity and sophistication, a new kind of infanticide is erupting right before our eyes. We are shocked that its perpetrators are the young men and women nurtured by the value systems within our own community. While society at large must rightly condemn their deeds as criminal to be placed with the other crimes against humanity, it must also accept the responsibility of having produced these errant and erring individuals. What has gone so horribly wrong here? When has the shame of having a child out of wedlock become more difficult to bear than throwing it away like a piece of rubbish?

Having pre-marital sex and conceiving a child out of wedlock are  certainly not modern-day phenomena that have suddenly emerged. Society has not suddenly become sex-oriented. Unmarried people , young and old from all cultures, succumb to sexual temptations. Unfortunately some couples are either careless or ill-informed  and their illicit activities result in an unwanted pregnancy. Depending on their own domestic set-up and family relationships, they either get support from their partners and family or are rejected by them.

One can go into the oft-quoted causes and heap blame on a number of things at the level of the personal, peer influence, family, community, the media and publicity and even government policy and programmes which are not effective. The easy access to pornography is said to be an immediate cause of rampant sexual activity and the resulting unwanted pregnancies. The breakdown in communication at all these levels has given rise to a moral phenomenon threatening to turn sordidly criminal with more copy-cat cases emerging daily.  

It is right that the government has taken the drastic step of categorising baby dumping as a criminal act amounting to murder if it meets with all the legal specifications of one. The country’s religious and educational authorities must play their part in organising community programmes and collaborating with the parents to nurture the right values in the young. The softer approaches like welfare aid, rehabilitation and counselling will fall into place once we admit that the issue is dead serious and needs urgent redress.


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August 2010
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