Passion killing clouds baby-dumping
By 2010, Namibia was overshadowed by a series of baby-dumping reports countrywide, which had dragged on from previous years and reportedly committed by young single mothers who had second thoughts nine months too late.
The wave of passion killings, which has claimed 15 lives thus far, has lately overshadowed the reports of baby-dumping in the main stream media.
Although the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare and the Ministry of Health and Social Services cannot reveal the exact number of dumped babies or teenage pregnancies that have been reported in the last five years, Namibia Media Monitoring (NaMedia) weighs in that there has been a decrease in teenage pregnancy reports in the mainstream media.
Although this does not confirm a definite decrease in reported cases of baby-dumping, NaMedia suggests that could be the case.
“The reasons could be twofold, either a decrease in reported cases or a shift of focus towards other social issues, such as acts of violence in general, violence against women, murder and passion killings,” NaMedia managing director, Natasja Beyleveld says.
Some of the biggest contributors to baby-dumping in rubbish bins, dams, river beds and other isolated areas are lack of support from the families and partners of the pregnant women, mostly teenagers.
“Students and learners need to be targeted with information on options for dealing with unwanted pregnancy and how they can continue their studies as parents,” Beyleveld adds.
According to an Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) 2011 report, Namibia saw the birth of 193 134 babies by Namibian women between the ages of 12-19.
Of these, 72 212 were born to teenagers between the ages of 12 and 14 while 120 922 were born to teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.
Of the babies born that year, 2 317 babies died before or after birth of which 209 were mothered by teenagers between the ages of 12 and 14. The teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 mothered 1 532 children who died before or after birth.
NSA does not have the latest statistics on teenage pregnancies and does not specify the causes of death of the infants in its 2011 report.
The reported cases indicated teenage pregnancies were more common in the rural areas than urban areas, although media reports on baby-dumping have been equally reported from central to northern Namibia.
Teenage pregnancies were highest in Ohangwena, Khomas, Kavango, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto regions.
In 2004 the Namibian Police (Nampol) received 13 cases of baby-dumping. The following year, the cases increased by four. In 2006, the number of cases reported to the police were only 15.
According to the same reports, an average of 13 babies were discovered in sewages on a monthly basis in 2008. The bodies of the discarded babies were a regular run-in at the Gammams Water Care Works of Windhoek.
In 2010, the body of a decomposing baby was discovered by a regular at a waste site in Khomasdal. In 2012, a woman from the Oshana Region, Saveli Ithet, threw her baby boy in a pit latrine. It was later discovered her savage act had been prompted by a marriage proposal by her ex-lover. The 27-year-old did not want to re-new the relationship with baggage, so she attempted to get rid of the child before her old but new-lover-to-be found out.
In 2013, a baby girl was found dumped in a bush in the Oshikuku Constituency. She, unlike most babies, survived the ordeal and was immediately admitted to the hospital in Oshikuku.
The same year, a 28-year-old woman was arrested for dumping her baby girl in a pit latrine of a public toilet in Oupindi. Also, municipal workers in Windhoek discovered the body of another baby who had been wrapped in a plastic bag and then discarded in a municipal rubbish bin.