KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are extending a helping hand to young pregnant women in a bid to reduce baby dumping.
Media reports have quoted the police as saying that more than 100 newborn babies are abandoned every year in Malaysia.
According to statistics cited by OrphanCare Foundation in its website, 60% of abandoned babies are found dead in trash heaps and other places, while the surviving ones are often left with severe impairment.
Petaling Jaya-based OrphanCare Foundation, which works closely with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, operates three baby hatches and offers a host of services including counselling and adoption arrangements.
OrphanCare Foundation Advocacy, Communications and Fundraising manager Sheerin Khan said poverty, social taboos, getting pregnant out of wedlock, and being too young were among the reasons why mothers dump their newborns.
“The girls who dump their babies can be teenagers who have completed their SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) or even university students.
“It's not just the less educated girls who end up in this predicament,” she said.
Be less judgemental
Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK) chief executive officer Ananti Rajasingam said most unwed mothers do not seek help or support for fear of being stigmatised by society.
“It takes two to get pregnant but men get away with it and it is the women who have to face the consequences,” she said.
She said unwed mothers usually did not get any support from society or the men responsible for their condition.
“If only society was less judgmental, it could help empower these unfortunate mothers,” she said, adding that people’s mindset towards unwed mothers must change.
“They have to be more supportive. There will be a higher incidence of women dumping their babies if there is no change in mindset.”
According to Ananti, most of the unwed mothers in Kuala Lumpur (KL) were not “locals” but from other states such as Kedah, Pahang or Kelantan who came to the city in search of jobs.
Most of them lived on their own and ended up befriending men and getting pregnant.
“I won’t say that KL girls don’t become pregnant out of wedlock. It’s just that most of them are more aware and educated when it comes to safe sex,” she added.
She also said that there were many cases of female foreign workers dumping their babies after getting involved in illicit affairs.
“Some of them even have families back home. From what I’ve observed, most of these foreign workers who become pregnant are mature women who know the consequences,” she added.
Options for unwed mums
Ananti said YCK provides long-term plans for unwed mothers who intend to keep their baby.
“We can take care of the baby while the mother goes to work and once she is (financially) stable, she can take her child back.
“We provide intensive counselling and it is up to them whether or not they want to give the baby up for adoption. If the unwed mother is young, we would include her family in the discussions to get their consent,” she said.
She also said that in the next five years, YCK plans to build a learning hub to train social workers to reach out to young people in marginalised communities living in the poorer sections of the city.
According to media reports, an average of 18,000 teenage girls in Malaysia get pregnant each year. Out of this number, 25% or about 4,500 cases involve pregnancy out of wedlock.
OrphanCare Foundation project administrator Syarhah Mohamed Tahir said in 2009, the organisation set up baby hatches in Petaling Jaya, Johor Baru and Sungai Petani (Kedah) to enable mothers to leave their babies there instead of dumping them.
The organisation is also collaborating with KPJ Hospitals, which has eight baby hatches around the country.
As of March 2019, a total of 360 babies have been delivered to OrphanCare Foundation – 277 through baby hatches and 133 through their birth mothers.
OrphanCare Foundation chief operating officer Yuzila Yusof said they plan to teach pregnant women under their care useful skills such as baking or sewing so that “they can go out and build a better life for themselves”.
OrphanCare Foundation can be contacted at 03-7770 1900 or 010-283 0528. – Bernama
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