On the 23rd of October 2018, a body of a newborn baby girl was discovered. The body was found among the garbages at a dumpsite located at Bachok, Kelantan.
The baby – who was wrapped in a yellow cloth -was found by local villagers at 11.45pm.
However, sadly, it seems this was another incident of baby dumping.
According to the Deputy Superintendent of the Bachok District Police, Nik Aminuddin Raja Abdullah, witnesses saw a couple arguing near the dumpsite moments before the body was found. When the couple was approached, they quickly fled in a dark Perodua Myvi.
As of now, the authorities are investigating the case under Section 318 of the Malaysia Penal Code.
FYI, Section 318 deals with the concealment of birth by secret disposal of dead body.
Section 318: Whoever by secretly burying or otherwise disposing of the dead body of a child, whether such child dies before or after or during its birth, intentionally conceals or endeavours to conceal the birth of such child shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.
In short: If you dump a baby’s body – regardless whether the baby was alive or dead when it was born – and deliberately try to keep it a secret; you can be punished with IMPRISONMENT up to 2 years or a FINE or BOTH.
However, the sad truth is, this is not the first time baby dumping practices took place in Malaysia.
In fact, thus far, the month of October 2018 alone have recorded 8 baby dumping cases prior to the Bachok incident!
Here is a list of WHEN, WHERE and HOW those cases happened.
1st October 2018 – Rawang, Selangor
Muhammad Hairuddin Mohd Khalid found a baby boy left alive at his front porch. The baby – who was still attached to his umbilical cord – was only wrapped in a blanket and covered in a blue cloth and a jacket.
7th October 2018 – Membakut, Sabah
A body of a baby was found floating in an abandoned pond at Kampung Binsuluk. The villagers were only alerted to the presence of the body due to the smell of the rotting flesh.
9th October 2018 – Lanchang, Pahang
A baby boy was found abandon at the women’s toilet at the Lanchang R&R. The baby was found by a civilian in a state of undressed at 5 am. It’s unknown how long the baby was left there unattended.
12th October 2018 – Butterworth, Penang
Police were unable to find the body of a baby boy after the boyfriend of the child’s mother buried the body without informing anyone. The boyfriend had done so to avoid people finding out that he and his girlfriend were having sexual relations.
15th October 2018 – Parit Buntar, Perak
A teenager was found dead by her family after it was believed that had given birth. The girl’s pregnancy was unbeknownst to her family members.
16th October 2018 – Ampang, Selangor
A baby girl was found alive by civilians on the stairs of the Desa Permai Flat. The baby – who was a newborn – was found fully dressed and wrapped in a white-patterned cloth.
18th October 2018 – Kota Bharu, Kelantan
A newborn baby girl was left on the pedestrian walkway near the Kota Bahru Bus Station. She was found at 2.30am by threes kind-hearted good samaritans.
22nd October 2018 – Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
A 22-year-old woman consumed 10 pills that would trigger an abortion after she was dumped by her ex-fiancee. She had swallowed 2 pills while inserting the other 8 into her vagina, just so that she could ensure that the abortion would carry through.
Going through this list of incidents is particularly disheartening, as there are other alternatives available rather than just dumping a baby at a random spot.
There places in Malaysia that provides baby hatch for mothers who would like to give up their child. Thus far, there are 3 locations – Petaling Jaya, Johor Bahru and Sungai Petani.
But why is baby dumping frequent in Malaysia?
Well, this boils down to two things, culture and also the law.
1. As an Asian country, in our culture unwed motherhood is stigmatized…A LOT!
Often times, whenever we see mothers who are young and unwed, we are quick to jump in and judge them. Those judgments would other range for the somewhat tame ‘Hiah, this person must be uneducated’ to the extremely lurid, ‘That girls must have open her legs to everyone she passes’.
2. The law basically criminalizes out of wedlock pregnancies!
Yup, that’s right. In Malaysia, it’s a crime to be pregnant if you are not married.
As we explained in a previous article having a baby out of wedlock could land you in jail for up to 3 years. And under the law, the baby could and would be used as evidence against you.
Hence, it’s no wonder that teenagers would resort to baby dumping! All so that they can evade the law.
The truth is, criminalizing and stigmatizing unwed motherhood is just adding to the problem.
In a recent column in the MalayMail, senior journalist Erna Mahyuni laid the facts quite succinctly. She stated;
No baby should suffer from the sins of their parents; the criminalisation of fornication punishes the child and not just the parents.
Like it or not, unwed pregnancies are bound to happen, no matter how much we as a society would like to police our inner lust.
Just trying to shove things under the proverbial rug with spiels of law isn’t helping. In fact, it’s costing innocent lives instead.