'Give women options to stem baby dumping'

HARARE - Zimbabwe should consider coming up with strong support mechanisms to reduce cases of baby dumping, gender experts have said.

Memory Kachambwa, a gender and development consultant, said government needs to come up with policies that support women in such situations.

“The reason why most of those women make those choices is out of desperation because everyone wants to fit into the society,” Kachambwa said.

“We live in a society where there are a lot of harsh judgments on women, a society where men are absolved of wrongdoing where women are involved. The same society also makes it a shame for women to have children outside marriage.

“Let us widen our choices for these women looking at temporary shelters, counselling, considering safe abortion and extending the scope of adoption. In South Africa (SA), half the women who are counselled end up not aborting. Sometimes what they need is the space and places to find support.”

SA runs the “Baby Hatch” concept, which is a metallic bin with mattresses and sensors to alert authorities that a desperate mother has left a baby. It is estimated that at least 70 000 unsafe abortions are occurring every year.

Nevertheless, abortion is a criminal offence in Zimbabwe.

There has been an increase in cases of baby dumping in Zimbabwe of late.

Virginia Muwanigwa, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe chairperson, says it takes two to tango.

“I am not excusing baby dumpers here, I am broadening our judgment of such offenders,” she said.

“Before a woman dumps a baby, the man would already have dumped her and the child. If we say the woman who leaves a child in a rubbish bin is wrong, then the man who walks away from his pregnancy is equally wrong.”

Girls’ rights activist and Tag-A-Life founder Nyaradzo Mashayamombe said convictions will not end baby dumping unless government deals with root causes of such acts.

“The two should be judged together,” she said.

“These days we have DNA testing machines, so if the man disputes, tests can be done to prove his innocence in court. It is unfortunate that society frowns only at the girl-child and never looks at the seed owner.”

According to official figures, three quarters of 13 million Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line.

Comments (2)

Women have contraception, condoms included at their disposal. The choice to have a child is theirs to make unless force has been proven to have been used. The man can dump a woman for varied reasons and every woman knows that. why then with all preventive methods available does an adult woman finds herself pregnant when she does not want to be pregnant. A human being is just like an other animal, and children are bet catered for by their mothers. The man can only give support. Women should think and think carefully about falling pregnant. Blaming the man or seeking abortion is not the best and first option to take. Prevention is the best remedy.

lee - 26 January 2015

SA is not a role model when it comes to women issues.Zimbabwe culture is far different.Too much freedom to women will create too many single mothers.Every adult is aware that unprotected sex results in pregnancy whether wanted or unwanted.There is just no excuse for unwanted pregnancies or baby dumping by women.There is plenty of pregnancy preventive methods available to responsible people.The law cannot be compromised to suit irresponsible women in the name of civilization.

PAMUROMO CHETE - 26 January 2015

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