KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — Police say a majority of baby-dumping cases involve Malays which observers say is the result of the stigma of illegitimate children and the community being ill-equipped to deal with unwanted pregnancies.
While there is no actual racial breakdown available because it is often difficult to determine the race of the babies, police say anecdotal evidence and prosecutions show the majority involve Malays.
Police say 13 out of 65 cases involving the dumping of newborns have resulted in prosecutions. All of the accused were Malays.
A total of 67 cases were recorded in 2005, 83 cases in 2006, 76 in 2007, 102 in 2008 and 79 in 2009.
ACP Hamidah Yunus, deputy director of the CID’s sexual, abuse and children’s investigations division in Bukit Aman, said the actual racial composition could not be given as most cases were unsolved due to a lack of evidence.
“All the 13 who have been charged (this year) are Malays... the ones we cannot solve we do not know, most of the babies found look Malay, but they are actually Indonesians, Vietnamese and Nepalese... we do not know until we figure out who threw these babies away,” Hamidah told The Malaysian Insider.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Welfare Department told The Malaysian Insider that it was hard to determine the identity or race of the babies who were dumped.
“We cannot really determine the race of the babies who have been abandoned. We can differentiate through their skin colour and facial features. But if a baby is already dead when we find them, it is difficult to determine,” said the spokesman.
Cases of babies being abandoned have increased from 65 cases in 2005 to 79 cases last year. On average, eight abandoned babies were found each month this year.
Hamidah blamed the lackadaisical attitude of the parents for abandoning their babies. Some are too young to get married, so they end up dumping their babies, she said.
“Family plays an important role here. You cannot just depend on the government to tackle this issue,” Hamidah said.
Sisters in Islam spokeswoman Yasmin Masidi said teenagers who end up getting pregnant are usually ostracised by society, by fears that they will be punished by the religious authorities.
“So when this happens, they leave their babies,” said Yasmin, adding that the lack of shelters for pregnant teens contributed to the rise in cases of baby dumping.
She added that unprotected sex and incest added to the number of cases although there was no statistical evidence.
Yasmin said that since most of the offenders in baby-dumping cases were teenagers, there was a need for sex education to be introduced in school.
“All this while the pressure has always been on the girls to have sex and they are blamed when babies are abandoned.
“Teenage boys should also be taught to take responsibility for their actions,” said Yasmin.
Malaysian Muslim Lawyers’ Association president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the reason why the majority of baby-dumping cases involved Malays was because there was no control on curbing immoral activities.
“They are doing this due to a lack of religious guidance and I consider this a curse from Allah,” said Zainul.
Malaysian Syarie Lawyers’ Association deputy president Musa Awang claimed that Malays often took the short cut by abandoning their babies for fear of being shunned by society.
“There is a possibility that other races do not view illegitimate children as an issue.
“Society will often judge harshly in matters like this,” said Musa.
Jemmah Islah Malaysia (JIM) president Zaid Kamaruddin told The Malaysian Insider that he was shocked by the statistics produced by the police this year.
“What can be understood is that Malays do not practice safe sex, and do not handle the situation well. When they do not handle it well, it affects the rise in such cases,” said Zaid.
Zaid claimed that Malays were often caught in a dilemma of “not knowing what to do” once they were pregnant with child.
“Yes, it is the responsibility of society to tackle this issue but it still boils down to the individual. They need to take care of themselves,” said Zaid.