Ministry reaches out to unwilling moms

28 February 2018 | Crime

The gender and child welfare ministry is calling on pregnant mothers to turn to the ministry for help instead of deserting newborn babies, often in life-threatening conditions.

The ministry also announced they are advocating, through the Child Care and Protection Act, to decriminalise cases where mothers are caught after they dumped their newborns. The ministry underlined that this would encourage unwilling mothers to place their newborn babies in safe places and allow social workers to make the necessary arrangements, “instead of leaving the baby in a deserted place, where the life of the baby is endangered”.

The ministry further appealed to civil society, including churches, traditional leaders and the community as a whole, to assist in assuring young mothers that alternative options, other than dumping babies, are on the table.

And that young girls are given the necessary support if they “do not know how to cope with the matter and encourage them to take help when they are experiencing a problem”.

For more than a decade, Namibia has been plagued by a worrying trend of mothers, mostly young girls, dumping babies shortly after birth.

In many cases, the infants died.

To date, authorities have criminally charged mothers accused of abandoning their infants, who later died, in the same way as mothers accused of infanticide.

In a full-page press statement on Tuesday, the ministry, with support from the minister Doreen Sioka, condemned cases where mothers abandoned infants shortly after birth.

The statement, however, acknowledged the “extremely difficult circumstances that young expecting mothers could be confronted with” when they opted to abandon their children.

The ministry noted that they are advocating for the decriminalising of baby dumping in an effort to persuade reluctant would-be mothers to rather anonymously leave their child at a safe place “with a note indicating her wishes not to harm the child”.

The ministry also urged mothers to approach them while pregnant and to inform social workers that they are unable or unwilling to care for the child.

“A supportive and non-judgmental counselling environment will be provided by the social workers at the ministry,” the statement emphasised. Another option proposed is that the ministry, in collaboration with the health ministry, will assist mothers who indicate their inability to care for their child, to safely give birth and then finding suitable caregivers for the child.

“By doing so, both the mother and the baby are safe and protected.”

The ministry further noted that in cases where the babies are born and then abandoned, the ministries of health and child welfare will ensure that the baby's health is stabilised.

A case of abandonment will then be opened with the Namibian police and a place of safety found for the child.

The police will take steps to trace the mother.

However, if the mother of the child is not found or the mother is facing criminal charges or is otherwise unfit to care for the child, foster and adoption processes will be initiated.

A paper published by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) suggested a number of causes for baby dumping. These included tradition, where young women fear judgment from their community and family when they become pregnant outside of marriage, and economic vulnerability when partners are absent or unwilling to assist.

Often, young women have unwanted pregnancies that lead them to conceal their condition and eventually ditch the child.

Lack of knowledge, illness, fear of leaving school and other forces are behind the desperate decision to abandon their babies and risk their lives.

Another issue related to unwanted pregnancies in Namibia was raised again by health minister Bernard Haufiku this month, when he reiterated his call for an urgent need for public dialogue on the legalisation of abortion.

He said this should be done especially in view of the high number of cases of illegal abortions recorded by the ministry in 2017.

Last year, at the bi-monthly conference on the state of health in Namibia, Haufiku explained that most backdoor abortions were detected by professionals when women sought medical attention, due to heavy bleeding or untreated infections. He, however, indicated that such cases could not be reported to the police, due to ethical issues and concerns that women would shy away from hospitals, fearing they will be reported to the police.

JANA-MARI SMITH

Similar News

 

Windhoek principal severely assaulted, robbed

5 days ago - 22 November 2021 | Crime

Ronelle Rademeyer WINDHOEKWindhoek International School principal Margarete Reiff (57) was recently admitted to Lady Pohamba Private Hospital after being seriously injured when...

Namibians feel unsafe

1 week ago - 19 November 2021 | Crime

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe majority of Namibians polled by an international organisation say they do not feel safe walking alone in the streets, while Namibia has again...

Cemetery attack highlights city’s safety issues

1 week ago - 19 November 2021 | Crime

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEK A man who was assaulted and robbed at the Gammams Cemetery in Pionierspark last week has warned fellow residents that Windhoek is no...

12 arrested for wildlife crimes

1 week ago - 17 November 2021 | Crime

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKTwelve suspects were arrested last week in connection while four new wildlife crime cases.According to the latest wildlife crime report compiled by the intelligence...

Man gang-raped at Keetmans

1 week ago - 16 November 2021 | Crime

ELIZABETH JOSEPHKEETMANSHOOPA 24-year-old man was allegedly gang-raped while on his way home from a nightclub between 02:00 and 03:00 on Friday morning.Two men allegedly raped...

Government has lost fight against corruption

1 week ago - 15 November 2021 | Crime

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe majority of Namibians are of the opinion that the government is failing in the fight against corruption and that even if they report...

Mbunza traditional court to adjudicate ritual killing case

2 weeks ago - 11 November 2021 | Crime

Kenya Kambowe RUNDUThe family of the late Engidius Kayanguya (35) who was found floating...

Woman fights for her life after panga attack

2 weeks ago - 10 November 2021 | Crime

TUYEIMO HAIDULA ONGWEDIVA Maria Shilongo (45) narrowly escaped death after her husband Ferdinand Festus Nghidipo assaulted her with a panga yesterday morning.She...

Woman arrested for stealing 25 goats

2 weeks ago - 10 November 2021 | Crime

NAMPA RUNDUA woman was arrested on Sunday for allegedly stealing and slaughtering 25 goats that belonged to her neighbour at Siurungu village in the Kavango...

Man slashes wife with panga, hangs himself

2 weeks ago - 09 November 2021 | Crime

A man allegedly slashed his wife with a panga on her face, head and hand at Ongwediva’s Sky Location before proceeding to hang himself in...

Latest News

'Kapana' records more international wins...

13 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

‘Kapana’, one of the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO)’s films, recently won Best Feature Film at the African Diaspora Cinema Festival in Florence (Italy) and Best...

Working hard to make things...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Business

Johann van Rooyen Having been in the information and communications technology (ICT) business for longer than I remember, I’ve seen it all. Laptops filled with...

Telecom, CRAN reaches agreement...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Economics

STAFF REPORTERThe Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and Telecom Namibia Limited reached a settlement agreement, closing a longstanding dispute on the legality of regulatory...

Investment trends in a decarbonised...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUEnvironmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues are material in determining the long run fundamentals of a business and bring about a different approach...

‘Unreliable’ Gustavo lied under oath...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Justice

Staff Reporter WINDHOEKArguments in the bail application of Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo were finalised yesterday, with the State arguing that the Namgomar...

80% of Namibians unvaccinated as...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Health

Henriette Lamprecht WINDHOEKNamibia is always concerned about the presence of viruses, in whatever form...

Good communicators often undervalued

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Business

Iréne-Mari van der WaltAfter starting his law degree before pursuing a career in broadcasting, Gernot De Klerk would eventually end up at Nedbank Namibia. He...

Grabbing life by the beans...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Business

Desiree Gases Kalahari Coffee Cooperative was started in 2017 in Windhoek by Brian Wheeler. “We have a hand in every aspect of our coffee...

An excellent aid at GIPF

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Events

Wetumwene Shikage PULL QUOTE: “I know our departmental core objectives thoroughly and assist everyone else within our department to achieve their goals.”As an...

Load More