Monday, August 16, 2010

Baby Dumping—Capital Punishment?

During one of the recent long runs on a Sunday with Dr Peter, we talked at length about unwanted teen pregnancies and incidents of baby-dumping. He opined that sex education can't really help to reduce these problems, because he said in the western countries, teenagers are generally well informed about sex, yet there are still many cases of teen pregnancies. I think I agree with Dr Peter.

However, I don't know if the same can be said about baby dumping. What does it take for a woman, or even a young teenaged girl, to go against the motherly instinct of protecting her own flesh and blood, to dump her baby and leave it to die? That is something even fierce animals like tigers would not do.

Morality and the sense of responsibilities have somehow been left out of the upbringing. Instead, it's selfishness that prevails. Although the element of fear is one of the many factors which can lead to baby dumping, I think the stronger factor is that of shame. In spite of all the so-called religious upbringing, when the teenaged girl accidentally becomes pregnant, she is unwilling to accept the responsibility for her mistake. First, there is the fear of the responsibility of parenthood. Then there is that shame of the act itself.

The tigress is free from fear and shame—its act is only controlled by its motherly instinct. But for a young woman (especially unmarried woman), the fear and shame overwhelm the motherly instinct. So strong is the fear, and so strong is the shame, coupled with selfishness, she is willing to dump/abandon her baby and leave it to die.

The problem is becoming quite rampant in Malaysia to the extent that the Government is making baby dumping (which can lead to the baby's death) a capital crime. [The Star] It means that the guilty person may be charged with the death penalty.

Unfortunately, I think no amount of threat of punishment—even the death penalty—can be stronger than the elements of fear and shame. Some people would rather take their chances trying to escape the law rather than face shame. In fact, they would rather die than facing the shame! [The Star]

I can't imagine what it is like to be a newly-born baby left to die a slow death because of exposure to the harsh environment or of starvation. And I can't imagine what goes on in the mind of the mother who did that to her own child. But I believe even if she is able to escape the long arms of the law, sooner or later justice shall overtake her somehow.


7 comments:

Sarah Elizabeth said...

One solution to this here in the west is that hospitals have their own centers where a girl/woman can leave the baby anonymously, and safely. I agree with you completely about the reasons a girl resorts to this.

Socrates29 said...

I like to liken the case of baby dumping in Malaysia to the drug trafficking scenario.

We can see that despite the mandatory death by hanging punishment imposed by Malaysia for those caught drug trafficking,this still doesn't stop or deter people from doing it.

Of course there is always remorse and regrets when one is caught and sentence to death for it but nowadays the cases of drug trafficking and the use of innocent Malaysian girls as drug mules is actually on the increase.

In Sabah,most of the baby dumping acts were committed by the pelarians(non-Malaysians)although many innocent Malaysians were also involved.

Many pessimists in our society are doubtful that imposing stricter and heavier sentences will stop or deter irresponsible people from committing the act of baby dumping.

The only good thing we can hope is that most of the dumped babies will be found before they die due to exposure to the cold,from hunger or attacks from animals or other elements.

Maybe over here in Malaysia, we should ape what Sarah has enlightened us here that in the West they have hospitals with their own centres for the unwanted babies to be left there.

Cornelius said...

Sarah,

Actually, in Malaysia, we do have centres "where a girl/woman can leave the baby anonymously, and safely". But then again, perhaps that word "anonymous" has a different meaning here in Malaysia. So it is quite possible that these people who are more concerned about their image would not take any chances. Hence better to just dump the baby and try very hard to forget the nightmare!

Cornelius said...

Socrates,

I don't think I can agree with you in comparing baby dumping to drug trafficking, even if baby dumping is made a capital crime. These are two different problems caused by 2 different motives.

In the case of drug trafficking, the principal driving force is the prospect of profits. The heavier the penalty, the more profits one can get from trafficking drugs, because presumably lesser people will be brave enough to be the dealers. The thing about many criminals is that they are always convinced that they can commit the crime and get away with it.

On the other hand, in the case of baby dumping, the pricipal motive is that of keeping a secret. It is no more no less the sweeping of the rubbish under the carpet. Because of the expectation from society, eg that a Muslim is supposed to be religious, he or she should behave "religiously". That is an image that is to be protected at all cost, even if a baby has to die for it!

Not only is a Muslim subject to the shame, but it is also possible that they will be penalised on religious grounds, much the same way a Muslim may be fined or caned for drinking beer.

Therefore, although the other races dump babies too, you will find that most of the baby dumping cases are those committed by the Muslims. Although I don't have statistics in my possession right now, I would challenge anyone to prove me wrong!

Cornelius said...

Oh yes, in the news today, are 2 lovers who have earned the fame of being the first ones to be charged with baby dumping in Malaysia. Check out this news article.

Scho said...

Cornelius, yes this is a very sad situation. Hopefully young people will learn to value family. Thanks for your reply. We all can do something to help our one and only habitable planet.

Cornelius said...

Scho,

I was running with Dr Peter yesterday evening, and we were talking about this subject again. I find it interesting that Dr Peter did not seem to be very much for the capital punishment.

It is not that he doesn't see baby dumping as a serious matter, but he feels that our Government has failed to provide adequate alternatives for these young mothers.

I pointed out to him that we do have centres where these young mothers could send their babies anonymously. But I was caught offguard when Dr Peter asked me if I knew where is the nearest centre. I had to reluctantly admit that I had no idea!

So the point is that the authority should make more effort to publicise these centres to send unwanted babies; that mothers can then easily find these centres. If that has been done, and these mothers still opt to dump their babies, then maybe the capital punishment may be more appropriate. I think this is a good point by Dr Peter.