Women's rights advocates opine that causes of baby dumping should be identified instead.
Chairman of Darul Wardah, a women’s shelter home, Hazlina Abd Razak said instead of imposing harsh penalties on the offenders, efforts should be made to find out why people dump newborns.
“Imposing stricter penalties won’t solve baby dumping. We need to instead determine the causes of baby dumping. Baby dumping is not due to ‘lax’ laws because I think there are bigger reasons for this,” she said.
She said this when asked to comment on Batu Gajah MP V Sivakumar’s statement today urging the government to impose stiffer penalty on the offenders.
Under existing laws, any individual found guilty of dumping a baby can be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years’ jail.
The DAP parliamentarian also said that everyone needs to think of new approaches in handling the baby dumping menace.
Hazlina said it was important that circumstances surrounding baby dumping to be understood.
“We don’t know why they dump babies in the first place. There is a possibility that the baby was conceived through rape or incest.
“I do not agree on meting out harsher punishment, because it does not help in reducing the number of babies being dumped. We need to find out the root cause,” she reiterated.
Hazlina also lamented that ultimately, the ones that bear punishment would be the women and the ones who are actually responsible (the men), always get away.
She also said that the issue must be solved appropriately.
“When we go to the doctor’s with an ear infection, we are not given cough medicine, are we? So for those who dump babies, should we treat them as someone who is ‘sick’ or a criminal? What about those who are underaged, for example?” she questioned.
Hazlina however said the ever increasing cases of baby dumping shows that existing laws have not been effective.
Pusat Kebahagiaan Wanita dan Remaja (Kewaja) chairman Yahya Mohamed Yusuf also echoed Hazlina’s sentiments.
He opined that preventive laws to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies are more important.
“As someone with more than 20 years experience in dealing with such cases, I find that what is more important is prevention. Rather than revising the laws which would not solve the problem, we should find ways to prevent promiscuity.
“Although we agree that in some way, the laws need to be stricter, we need to firstly prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies from happening. As they say, prevention is better than cure,” he said.
Yahya also pushed for parliamentarians and ministers to embark on awareness campaigns to curb the problem.
“Also, what about those who dump their babies ‘carefully’? We might be able to find those who have dumped their babies but what about those where we cannot find the person responsible?” he queried.