THE rise in cases of newly-born babies being dumped and discarded in the most horrific of places or worse still in pit latrines have no justification whatsoever.
Baby dumping is inhuman and unacceptable. Every child, regardless of circumstances surrounding their conception, has a right to life.
Baby dumping is one of the most abhorent forms of child abuse in Zambia and this growing phenomenon needs an urgent shift from the current reactive approach to more proactive planning to effectively curtail the problem.
Barely a month passes without a baby being abandoned. We keep seeing lurid headlines, while hearing political and religious leaders make a hue and cry.
Babies have been flushed down toilets, chucked in garbage bins, discarded at playgrounds, dumped in bushes and disposed of at bus-stops.
Although this practice is not new, its current frequent occurrence and the negative implications it has on the babies concerned makes it a serious social problem that requires urgent attention.
Just yesterday, Police in Chama District of Muchinga Province arrested a 23-year-old woman for dumping a newly-born baby in a toilet.
Muchinga Province deputy Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Kunda, confirmed the development and identified the suspect as Rebecca Mwale of Chizimba village in Senior Chief Kambombo’s area.
Mr Kunda explained that Rebecca allegedly dumped the baby the previous day around 03:00 hours, but members of the public spotted her and immediately alerted the police.
In a related development Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital public relations officer Natalia Mashikolo complained that the institution had been turned into a dumping ground for babies.
Ms Mashikolo says the hospital had already recorded six cases of babies abandoned so far this year and that last year, eleven babies were dumped.
Whichever way one would want to look at it, there is no valid reason for a mother to dump her baby, or even wanting to take the child’s life in the first place.
We are at pain wondering why and what could possibly drive an individual to harm an innocent, defenceless infant? What could cause someone to abandon all sense of compassion and morality? What could push an individual to mutilate, discard or kill their own flesh and blood?
It is disheartening more especially that as Zambians who consider ourselves as a Christian nation that are supposedly driven by religious ethics and a strong moral compass, we continue to passively bear witness to such heinous tragedies unfolding within our midst.
We are perplexed that despite the fact that concerted efforts are being made to encourage the use of condoms and contraceptives, the problem still continues.
We cannot, therefore, continue to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that our efforts in combating the issue thus far have been effective and adequate.
Whilst initiatives, such as the baby hatch, counselling support programmes as well as care centres, have undoubtedly helped rescue the lives of many babies, who may have otherwise been dumped or killed, we are still failing to address the primary causes behind these undesired pregnancies.
The reality is that many young Zambians are sexually active and engage regularly in pre-marital sex.
Whilst this is no doubt a less than ideal actuality, we should concern ourselves more urgently with the fact that many are becoming involved in sexual relations blindly without first truly understanding the risks and consequences associated with unprotected sexual practices.
The implementation of a genuinely comprehensive sex education programme in schools continues to be a highly contentious subject, with some quarters claiming that it will further encourage and influence teenagers to engage in sexual relations and promote immoral behaviour.
Such assertions nevertheless, have been proven, time and time again, to be concerns that are baseless and unjustified, with research indicating that teen pregnancy rates are in fact reduced when adolescents are armed and empowered with adequate knowledge about their sexuality.
By continuing to dismiss the dire need for comprehensive sex education in this country, we continue to fail the younger members of our society who we all have a collective duty and responsibility towards.
As such, it really is about time that we stopped living in denial about certain realities of baby dumping and infanticide. Ignorance is certainly not bliss in this matter.
Rather than constantly bemoaning the fate that falls upon these unfortunate babies and instead of wagging our fingers and clicking our tongues judgmentally every time a newborn is dumped or murdered, let us try and arrest the issue using a pro-active approach for a change.
It is therefore wise to consider taking babies to orphanages rather than dumping them which do not respect human life.