We all know baby dumping results from unwanted pregnancies and although we see and hear it happen, it is less spoken about by many.
This act is mostly done by our female youth members who are still scholars and whom we expect to be this country’s future. According to a report by the Namibia Press Agency (NPA), about 40 babies and foetuses are dumped or flushed down the toilets of Windhoek every month. Imagine the data one can acquire!
Young women especially face so many problems during their puberty period that merges with their socialisation. Peer pressure, finding their true identity and constant behaviour changes influence the way these youngsters think.
Educational efforts should thus amplify the communication among youth, families and communities. Increased communication could minimise the shame and secrecy associated with an unwanted pregnancy and make young women more likely to take advantage of the support structures and services in their families and communities.
Sex education alone is insufficient in addressing the issue but more importantly, young girls should know about values related to self-dignity and sacrifice. Let’s begin to support comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education. Let’s recommend that schools and communities provide comprehensive sex education to all youth and families; both in rural and urban areas.
Lack of religious upbringing is also one of the causes of baby dumping. Religion clearly teaches us morals that govern humanity. So let’s swallow that in instead of decrementing it. Our Government, in collaboration with the private sector, should intervene by hiring community medical assistants and social work experts in all the communities presenting increased risks of baby dumping.
It is a fact that openly discussing sex has always been a taboo amongst most parents. They would rather want their children to learn about sex by themselves with the assumption they will eventually know about it when the time is right, which is wrong. If anything, when exactly is the ‘right time’ for teenagers with raging hormones to learn about sex?
Teen pregnancy eventually becomes an unwelcomed surprise. Of course, the same people who reject the idea of their children receiving sex education are often the ones most affected by another innocent life left in a drain, found in a dustbin by stray dogs...
But then again, do these young parents have a choice? Are they to blame for the baby dumping cases when no one acknowledges their mistake and/or give parental advice, rather than point fingers? If I were to become a young dad at the age of 20, would I be prepared to be thrown out by the family (with no education and money) for fathering a child out of wedlock?
These are probably some of the questions hundreds of young women who have had to dump their newborns due to lack of family support battle with. But is it not partly their parents’ fault? True, the State tries its best to fill in the gap of the faltering baby dumping but what should be more important is to look beyond alternatives such as, upbringing. Denying that they happen questions the well-being of these children eventually.
Being born out of wedlock is not reason enough to isolate one from the embrace of family. Hence, parents of these troubled young mothers have to do away with the connotation of shame linked to having an illegitimate, unplanned child. Let us avoid this by nurturing our kids in a morally-upright manner.
Parents need to guide their children to realise it is not the end of the world when they fall pregnant without planning for it. The young mothers need to know they will always have their families’ full support in preventing the same mistake from recurring.
We need to understand these young girls resort to dumping their newborns because they are out of options, given the limitations set up by social circumstances. Hence, the best way to solve the problem is not by providing more sanctuaries for such babies but to tackle the root cause.
Instead of crying over spilled milk, the right path is to ensure our future generations do not do this. To end this recurrent problem, the society must change its mindset and deal with the situation of these young parents, rather than dismissing their plea for help, leaving the responsibility to the State alone. This disgraces our country.