SEPANG: Baby dumping cases are on the rise and must be tackled with urgency, says the Deputy Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said police figures showed there had been 577 baby dumping cases from 2014 to 2018.
The statistics also showed that such cases had been trending higher since 2012.
"Baby dumping is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Among the causes of baby dumping is unwanted and teenage pregnancies.
"The ministry is taking proactive steps by formulating advocacy and preventive strategies, as well as organising public awareness programmes, specifically for teenagers on their reproductive health.
"The ministry is also implementing 'locality mapping' and 'strategic intervention' in areas that have been identified with the police as 'hot spots' for baby dumping," said Dr Wan Azizah, at the launch of the anti-baby dumping campaign in North-South Expressway (Plus) rest areas.
Dr Wan Azizah called on teenage girls and women with unplanned pregnancies who required help to contact the ministry's "Talian Kasih" hotline at 15999.
"Seek help immediately and do not make rash decisions that could endanger your life and the life of your baby.
"Our ministry has counsellors with experience in handling these cases, and are ever-willing to help and give protection to you and your baby.
"The Social Welfare Department has shelters for children and women who are pregnant out of wedlock," said Dr Wan Azizah.
She also reminded that baby dumping was an offence under Section 318 of the Penal Code.
Also present at the campaign launch was Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh.
Under the campaign, the ministry put up awareness posters in both male and female toilet cubicles at 22 Plus rest areas nationwide.
Yeoh said baby dumping cases in toilets were the second highest, after homes.
From 2010 to 2018, babies were found dumped at homes 266 times, toilets (108) and garbage sites (89).