More than lending an ear

Chong Eng (right) chairing a meeting with staff members of the Women’s Welfare Council at its premises in George Town. — Photos: ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star

YOUNG women in a dilemma with unwanted pregnancies need help and guidance, more than punishment.

State women and family development, gender inclusiveness and religions other than Islam committee chairman Chong Eng said many troubled women often resort to baby dumping due to fear of unknown consequences.

“These young women are in fear, and they don’t know what to do. Sadly, some end up dumping their baby, which is something we don’t want.

“We want them to know that they can always seek help and they need to be educated on the dynamics of the situation, ” she said during a visit to the Women’s Welfare Council (WWC) in Babington Avenue, Penang, on Tuesday.

Chong Eng said WWC could assist the women in their delivery and even arrange for adoption, if the parents are not keen on keeping the baby.

“There is no need for baby dumping. Don’t despair and dump your babies, and don’t hurt yourselves too, ” she said.

Chong Eng said while helping those who made a mistake is crucial, educating them before they end up in a mess is equally crucial.

Chong Eng (in purple) with Ong (right) and other      members admiring the   greens grown at Aquaponics nursery at the Women’s Welfare Council premises in Babington Avenue, Penang.Chong Eng (in purple) with Ong (right) and other members admiring the greens grown at Aquaponics nursery at the Women’s Welfare Council premises in Babington Avenue, Penang.

“We need to study this. Maybe look into the record of those who went through unwanted pregnancy and study if there is a similar pattern, be it in their family background or something else.

“For those who went through this before but have moved on in life, we hope they can come forward and share their experience with these troubled couples.

“Come advise these young girls and boys not to make such a mistake, and share with them how you overcame challenges, ” she said.

She said as baby dumping is becoming quite rampant, it needs to be addressed before it turns into a more serious social issue.

WWC honorary secretary Katherine Ong, who was present, said the council helps young women deal with unwanted pregnancies and those in similar situations who reach out for help.

“We have a dormitory, daycare-cum-nursery for children, social protection home (RPS) and affordable hostel for single working girls.

“Young ladies in such circumstances can always reach out to us.

“If they want to, they can stay here until the baby is delivered and we would assist them throughout the process.

“At the RPS, thousands of young unmarried mothers have been housed there since it started in 1994.

“We are happy to say there have always been safe delivery for all the girls.

“Some have since left, and are happily married, going on with their own lives, careers and more.

“Some even return to visit us at times, ” she added.

Ong said the home recorded decreasing number of mothers coming in over the years, from 42 residents in 2005 to two residents in 2020.

“From this number, we can gauge that the number of girls housed in our RPS has reduced, which is a good sign.

“This shows that our young girls are more aware of the dangers around them and are able to defend themselves against sex predators.

“We hope those in need of help can reach out to us.

“Don’t do anything harmful to yourself or your newborn, ” she added.

Those in need of counselling can call WWC at 04-229 8355.

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