By Richmore Tera.
Harare, Zimbabwe. (News Of The South) – While baby dumping has been in existence since time immemorial, it however still remains as one of the worst inhuman acts perpetrated on innocent souls by their parents, both female and male.
There is always an ironic side to baby dumping — those who commit it will be doing it out of the need to get rid of an “unnecessary load” in their lives. On the other hand, there are those who spend sleepless nights praying to have their own baby but without success.
The saying that children are a gift from God loses its value in the face of those who choose to abandon babies for reasons which are ridiculous to say the least.
Getting into the mind of a baby-dumper is like trying to unravel a maze.
But at the core of all this would be shame, guilt, fear, embarrassment, disgust, disappointment and uncertainty over what the future might hold in store for both the mother, father and ‘unwanted’ child .
Disgust and disappointment often drives mothers to either abandon or kill their babies (infanticide) after the father would have denied responsibility. As a way of avoiding shame and embarrassment, the mother then opts for baby dumping, sometimes concealing the pregnancy for months until it is due.
The women sometimes decide not to divulge anything about their condition (pregnancy) due to fear after they would have been threatened by their rapists not to tell anyone about the rape.
“Most of the babies who are dumped are unplanned for. In most cases, the mothers conceal the pregnancy until the time of delivery when they either dump the new baby or exterminate it. In other cases, these babies are usually a result of rape. Forced sex accounts for a shocking percentage of unplanned pregnancies among teenage girls, mostly from the age of 12 to 18 years.
“These cases often come out in the open later, when the victim starts showing signs and symptoms of pregnancy, which then gives a lead to elders that something is wrong with their child,” observed professional counsellor, midwife and nurse, Mrs Audrey Tasaranarwo.
In December last year alone, According to Mrs Tasaranarwo, who is also the Public Relations Officer at Chitungwiza Central Hospital, their institution received about five cases of teenage girls who, after being taken for HIV tests, results revealed that some of them were not just pregnant but also HIV positive as a result of the rape.
“When girls are vulnerable, they are easy prey to rapists, especially during these harsh economic times when money is difficult to come by. The perpetrators use money as a decoy to lure young girls into sex.
“Negligence on the part of parents can also contribute to this sad scenario since minors need constant attention and monitoring in their movements as well as the type of people they are keeping company. Without serious monitoring, counselling, open family-discussions as well an education system that equips these children with relevant information, then efforts of doing away with abortion and baby dumping will always remain a big challenge,” she said.
On the religious side, Prophet Emmanuel Mwale of the Unity Apostolic Church International said the increase in cases of baby dumping is partly as a result of lack of religious knowledge on the part of those who abandon their babies.
“If such people understood what the Bible says about child abandonment, then they would ask God to give them the courage to confess or say out their situations so that solutions to their problems will be found while time is still ripe.
“Remember, we only live this life once and playing cat-and-mouse with family members will be like lifting a rock and dropping it on one’s foot,” Prophet Mwale said.
Baby dumping is on two aspects: one can either reject or throw away a child; the other extreme is when the mother chooses to kill the baby after having concealed the pregnancy (infanticide).
While to those who commit this sin this will be one ‘escape route’ for them from the burden that is the unwanted child, there are however those are struggling to have babies.
The alternative in this case would be adoption.
During a recent tour of the paediatric wards of one of the leading hospitals in Zimbabwe, members of a United Kingdom-based charity organisation, Vasikana veChitungwiza muDiaspora, were told about the procedures that one had to follow in the event that they wanted to adopt a child.
“You go through the Social Welfare Department who then assess whether the person who wants to adopt is capable of looking after the minor. This is done together with the officials from the relevant orphanage or children’s home or in this case through the hospital,” explained one senior hospital staffer.
While adoption is a solution to the plight of abandoned babies, the fact that they grow up without the love and care of their blood parents alone can be a devastating experience.
But in most cases, some of these babies who are adopted end up leading happy lives and having good professions.
A man in Manicaland province in the country once hit the headlines when he claimed that he was father to sungura musician, Alick Macheso, allegations which the “Gungwa” hit-maker dismissed as the ramblings of a mad man.
It is believed that Macheso grew up without his father only under the care of his mother.
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