Baby dumping and infanticide in Botswana are fast becoming national issues, causing grave concern to the government and civil society organizations.
Despite being criminal issues that warrant police intervention and jail time, the Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, DR Gloria Somolekae, said a further reflection into these issues is required.
Speaking at press briefing on Baby Dumping and Infanticide at the Cresta Lodge on Thursday, Somolekae said there is now a familiar but shocking catalogue of stories of lifeless infants being dragged by dogs, fetuses blocking flush toilet, desperate cries of infants in pit-latrines, of children lying cold by the roadside and of babies being saved from pit latrines, covered with human excreta.
“We remain very concerned that hardly a fortnight goes by in Botswana without a story being published of baby-dumping, concealment of birth, child neglect and infanticide,” said Somolekae.
Between 2005 and 2010, police records indicate that at least 450 babies suffered this fate in Botswana.
Somolekae said research shows that most profiles of the women who abandon babies reflect intergenerational transference of poverty, low levels of education, substance abuse addiction, neglect and abandonment.
“There are several common key precursors and concurrent variables for women who commit these acts. It is important to explore how these factors work together in a system to heighten risk for baby dumping and infanticide,” she said.
According to research done, women in Botswana carry the highest burden of social ills that is gender based violence, the HIV/AIDS scourge, and poverty.
She said though it is a despicable act, resorting to infanticide and baby dumping for some women may be a response to chronic strains that result from deprivations, vulnerabilities and a desire for alternative forms of survival.
Somolekae said Botswana should also reflect on those fathers who sexually abuse their daughters, as culture expects daughters to comply with elderly instructions. “Many women stay in abusive relationships because of a number of considerations predisposing their children to a lot of situations in future,” she said.
At the same briefing, the chairman of Maikano Youth Wellness Group, Nkosi Bentu, emphasized the need for instating the Baby Safe Haven Law in Botswana.
“This will give a better option to parents who do not want their babies,” said Bentu.