Close to 85 babies dumped over 8 months

By Shallot Mohutege

ABOUT 85 babies were dumped between the period of January and August this year.

According to statistics provided by the Namibian Police the highest number was recorded in the Erongo region with 16 babies discarded followed by Khomas region with 14 cases and Oshikoto region with 10 reported cases.

Hardap, Kavango West and Omaheke have had no cases of baby dumping reported between January and August.

Deputy Commissioner of Nampol, Kaunapawa Shikwambi, emphasised on the gravity of baby dumping.

“When you talk about a life ended, that is a serious violation of the law. These cases are very serious. A murder case can be opened against such a perpetrator and it is a violation of human rights; yes it is a case of baby dumping but it is an alternate case of murder as well,” said Shikwambi.
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She encourages young girls who are sexually active to take precautions such as contraceptives to avoid having unwanted pregnancies.

She further advised parents to get involved in the sex education of their children.

“Perhaps parents need to talk to their children about sex and teach their children about different contraceptives, not just females but the males as well.

“There are exceptions made for rape victims who fall pregnant, the medical aspect will take care of that, but if somebody falls pregnant intentionally, without a criminal activity taking place and intentionally kills a foetus or baby then that is punishable by law.

“But if a mother falls pregnant and feels like she does not want the baby then she needs to start making arrangements already with organisations so that she can leave the baby there, to be taken care of by the state. But carrying a child for nine months and dumping the child after is a gruesome act,” Shikwambi added.

Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Doreen Sioka reminded the public especially young mothers that baby dumping is illegal in Namibia

“I said it before and I will say it again, bring the baby to me, or take the baby to the police or even to the Ministry of Health … matter of fact there is a children’s home in Eros, you can take the baby there too. Just do not dump the baby, we will find the baby a home ourselves.”

Sioka further added that although not condoning their actions, she understands why mothers result to dumping.

“People cannot afford to take care of babies, I understand that. Due to circumstances such as poverty it is hard taking care of another human being and let’s face it, although the N$250 can sometimes help, it is not always enough,” said the Minister.

She also called on fathers to stop denying their children and to start taking responsibility as sometimes mothers feel they cannot look after the baby on their own and that is why they end up dumping their children.

Idda Shivolo, a registered nurse and midwife stated that the reason some women abort their children is because they suffer from postnatal depression.
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“It’s high time our leaders in the health ministry start discussing postnatal depression with expectant mothers. We can talk about contraceptives, but the fact remains, postnatal depression is a thing and is greatly overlooked. If we take time to sensitise women about it whilst attending pre-natal care then maybe the number (of dumpings) could be reduced,” said Shivolo.

Social worker Veronica Theron echoed these sentiments, further explaining:  “Other reasons include abject poverty; risky and unsafe sex, crisis or unplanned pregnancies due to incest and rape or sexual relationships with married or older men which alternatively will lead to pressure from the alleged father to abort”.

According to Theron other reasons include lack of sexual education and ignorance as well as lack of psychological and psychosocial support from the family members and the alleged father;  fear of being excluded from school; and being afraid to be named and shamed by family, church and friends.

“Sometimes, reasons such as unemployment as well as lack of knowledge about the possibilities of alternative care such as foster care and adoption play a role. These mothers do not know that they can put the baby up for adoption instead of simply dumping the baby”.