Thursday, September 13, 2007

Garbage bin — the girl child’s new abode

KOLKATA: In the last three months, 10 newborn babies have been found abandoned in garbage dumps in Kolkata. All of them female. In the same period, Jharkhand recorded 14 such cases.

At an interactive session organised on Wednesday by a non-government organisation (NGO) that works for child rights, it was revealed that gender exclusion was rampant not just in rural areas but in urban centres such as Kolkata and Ranchi as well.

The NGO revealed that many more such cases go unreported.Police, it appears, are not playing a pro-active role to curb the crime.

"Since abandoned babies mostly belong to unwed mothers, who fear ostracism, we are not in a position to investigate such cases beyond a point," said IG (law & order), West Bengal police, Raj Kanojia.

"So in most cases, we fail to trace the parents of such babies, unless there is a definite eyewitness to the act of abandoning, which is very rare," he added.

Kanojia also revealed that even if police are able to trace parents of abandoned children, it is not easy for them to force the mother or the parents, as the case may be, to take the child back.

"The threat of ostracism after giving birth to a child outside wedlock is the single biggest challenge that we face.

"Even if we are successful in persuading the mother or the parents in taking back the child, what is the guarantee that it will not be dumped again?" Kanojia said.

S Gupta, a retired IPS officer, says it should be made mandatory to inform the police whenever an unwed mother comes to deliver a child at a nursing home. This, he feels, would make it easy for police to trace the parents.

"This is a social evil and cannot be exorcised overnight. I would advise parents to silently hand over their 'unwanted' children to an orphanage, rather than leaving them to die in places such as garbage dumps," said social worker and psychologist Sucheta Dutta.

State police are coordinating with several organisations and NGOs to start an awareness programme regarding gender discrimination.

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