In a bid to identify strategies to tackle the rise in baby dumping incidents, concealment of birth, child neglect/abandonment and infanticide, Maikano Youth Wellness Organisation (MYWO) recently held a press conference at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone.
MYWO aims to promote positive behavioural change among the youths of Botswana to enable them to effectively resolve personal and social issues associated with developmental challenges.
Organisation chairman, Nkosi Bentu, said that most of the perpetrators of such incidents are women and in, particular, girls.
He said that they are often poor, single, and under the age of twenty-five. They are often first-time mothers who are most likely to have less than form-five level of education and likely to have reported physical, sexual and emotional abuse in their family of origin, especially in blended families and later, in her intimate relationships.
Deputy Public Relations Officer from the Botswana Police Service, Dipheko Motube, revealed that the number of abortion cases reported in 2009 stands at 37 while in 2010, they were 53. In the concealment of birth, the number of cases reported was 66 in 2009 and rose up to 70 in 2010.
“Punishment for abortion and baby dumping depends on the nature of the offence, adding that sentences range from three years to life imprisonment,” said Motube, in response to questions posed by the audience.
He said any woman who, being with a child, with intent to do her own miscarriage, administers to herself any poison or other harmful thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any means whatever, or permits any such thing, or means to be administered or used to her, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
As for baby dumping, he stated that any person who, when a woman delivers a child, endeavours, by any secret disposition of the dead body of the child, to conceal the birth, whether the child died before, at, or after its birth is guilty of an offence.
Any person who, when a woman is about to deliver a child, prevents the child from being born alive by any act or omission of such a nature that, if the child had been born alive and had then died, he would be deemed to have unlawfully killed the child, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.
Karabo Morule, Additional member at MYWO, added that people stop committing such incidents, which are uncalled for because it also affects our government financially.
“A lot of money is being spent on pre-natal care yet from there one decides to commit such unbearable acts,” she said.
In his final words, Bentu stated that the campaign doesn’t end with the press conference. They have decided to organize a sponsored walk on the 28th May. It will include students from primary to tertiary schools and the youth from the community at large.
“This campaign is hoped to start off with a candle light session in remembrance of the infants that died under such horrific conditions. The session will, however, be on the 26th of May,” he said.