|Baby dumping — A genocide overlooked|
|Saturday, 02 June 2012 22:17|
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IN 2009, the Harare City Council revealed shocking statistics that at least 20 new-born babies and foetuses were dumped in Harare’s sewer system every week. Add other cities and towns and the number of baby dumping cases runs into hundreds.Everyday there are several numbers of infants being found in dustbins, toilets, bridges, rivers and other unimaginable places. The causes of such acts of cruelty number into hundreds but the one source that stands out is the rebuff by the father of the child to acknowledge responsibility, thereby forcing the pregnant woman to keep the pregnancy secret in order to successfully dump the baby without inviting questions from the family and friends.
Other women take that road because they cannot afford to take care of their new-born babies and out of desperation and fear of plunging deeper into poverty; they abandon their babies and walk away without looking back.
It is also a fact that having a baby out of wedlock astronomically decreases a woman’s chances of getting married later in life, thus many young women especially teenagers often dump babies in the hope that they can then start afresh as if they never had babies before.
A woman, whose child has no father, is seen as the black sheep of the family and out of the desire to get back into the circle of affection; the stranded and desperate mother ends up dumping her baby.
But which group is the biggest contributor to these serious cases? The outcome of researches points towards teenagers, who are oblivious of the baggage that accompanies sexual intercourse. However that does not make the contribution of adults less alarming and revolting.
The economic state of teenagers contributes to baby dumping cases. Teenagers are not able to raise a baby on their own. They are under age and what they have to do now is to enjoy their school or college lives. They do not have to work to support a family because they are not able to carry the burden of such a huge responsibility.
In order to solve their problems, most of them choose baby dumping as the best way in spite of other methods. Only through baby dumping will they forever say goodbye to the burden of raising a baby.
Most of baby dumpers consider baby dumping as the best way out because they believe it will not follow them into the future. But, their thoughts are definitely wrong because they have killed innocent babies and they will suffer from that bad and memorable nightmare throughout their lives.
Besides undermining the values of humanity and promoting social anarchy, moral disintegration, and a view of humans that is inherently degrading, thereby harming the common good, baby dumping can lead to a decrease in human affection resulting in a society that has no respect of lives.
But the rationale behind this article is not to preach about the causes and the consequences of baby dumping, though it is necessary to mention them but to outrightly condemn the practice and to call it what it is.
Baby dumping that results in loss of lives is not different from premeditated murder and baby dumping cases that are discovered before the baby has lost its life should be seen as attempted murder.
What is disheartening is that reality is far different as baby dumping is not treated as murder or attempted murder, no severe penalties are imposed on baby dumping offenders as the sentences that are passed are not harsh enough to deter would be offenders.
In 2010, a woman from Zhilo village in Esigodini, who was impregnated by a local married man, gave birth to a baby boy, strangled him and threw the corpse into the bush in an attempt to conceal her crime, was sentenced to 90 days in jail with hard labour.
The 90-day jail term was reached by Esigodini magistrate Lungile Ncube after Thubelihle Nkala (25) pleaded guilty to contravening section 48 (1) (b) chapter 9:23 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The light sentence is just the tip of the iceberg as most perpetrators of this diabolic crime have served short sentences in prison, except in extraordinary cases, because of extenuating circumstances that saw presiding magistrates deciding to take excuses into consideration.