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Set up concrete plans to stop baby dumping if you really care, Zaid tells Muslim leaders


26 Oct 2021


A few days ago, there was a report of a schoolgirl being arrested for throwing away her baby. This form 5 girl threw the baby away because no one was there to help her. No mother would do such a thing unless she was desperate and fearful of being discovered that she was pregnant out of wedlock. She is probably a Muslim girl who did I not want to be ostracised by her family and the community. Shame can drive a person to do unthinkable act

So many of these incidents took place in our country but somehow the harrowing acts of baby dumping did not stir enough emotions and feelings among our Muslim leaders who, by the way, frequently depict themselves as champions of “Muslim sensitivities”. Our Muslim leaders (the political/religious types) like to remind us not to do anything that will ignite “sensitive reactions” amongst Muslims. They say don’t reveal too much of your body if you are a woman, don't sell beer in the Muslim majority areas; don't comment on Muslim laws if you are a non-Muslim. The latest “sensitive subject” is the uproar created when a company started selling whisky with the name “Timah”. Why the uproar? No reason that most people could comprehend was given. Some say Timah is a short form of Malay/Arabic name Fatimah. Do these leaders really care about Muslim welfare and sensitivities; and if they do, what have they done to stop baby dumping?

I guess they are just busybodies. They don't care about Muslim sensitivities; more likely, they are manufacturers of sensitivities. They want to depict themselves as champions of the Muslim community and work hard to make themselves relevant, which has become increasingly difficult when society expects from their leaders’ tangible actions and not “empty talk”. What have they done to help women and young girls in distress?

If these leaders are genuinely concerned about Muslim welfare and sensitivities, they should set up concrete plans to stop “baby dumping”. Arresting a young girl is not difficult; but helping and counselling; and saving a life, is the way to help Muslim women. The recent report did not say if the girl was a Muslim girl, but chances are high that Muslim women may have contributed largely towards dumping cases in the country. Many of these women do not know how to protect themselves from sexual predators, as they lack education and understanding of their own reproductive body functions.

Muslims are not supposed to have sex before marriage (they are not supposed to do anything sinful, like gambling, drinking, premarital sex, music that excites them etc.). Many students and young girls do not have proper sex education. Sex is not a subject conservative Muslims like to address openly. Their leaders, who are primarily male, do not empathise with the difficulties women face when they become pregnant out of wedlock. Instead, society and families ridicule and ostracise these unlucky girls, as they have committed sin and “shamed” the family and religion. That’s why I think most of the dumping is done by Muslim girls. The authorities can prove me wrong by publishing the data of those babies found.

From what I know, the people who are doing something useful in dealing with baby dumping are from non-governmental organisations. Orphan care Foundation is exemplary in showing the way to help young women in distress. They have saved more than 500 babies in the last ten years. They set up “baby hatches” to address these social problems, where babies can be saved by leaving them in hatches instead of in the drains. They have only three centres in the peninsular, but they need more all over the country. Without the safety of hatches, more and more babies will be abandoned, and some of them will die.

Why can’t the government do more to address this problem? The Minister in charge of women Affairs is a Muslim woman, and together with Minister of Education can easily take a more proactive approach in dealing with the problems. Where is sex education in schools leading to? How much information is given to girls on the dangers of premarital sex? Can we not tell them how to have safe sex? The lack of interest shown by the government in dealing with baby dumping proves my point that our leaders do not care enough about Muslim welfare and sensitivities; but pander only to manufactured feelings that ignite the emotions of Muslims.

They want an easy way to relate to problems encountered by Muslims. They usually lecture them (which is easy) but will not try to help to address the problems borne by the frailties of human condition (which is difficult). They shun difficult issues. They do not want extremists to accuse them of encouraging promiscuity ‘or sex before marriage’, an accusation they could easily counter and overcome if they are sincere in helping Muslim women. Saving lives is apparently not strong enough reasons for them to act decisively.


DATUK SERI ZAID IBRAHIM

FORMER FEDERAL MINISTER

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