*Concern over rising cases of baby dumping in Kaduna
*I have six in my care – District head
From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Non-Governmental Organization, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), has raised the alarm over increasing cases of dumping of new live-births by unknown women in Kaduna State. It says there is need for concerted efforts by stakeholders and the public to nip the menace in the bud.
Though the practice is not new in the country, it has been on the increase in recent times, with the victims dumped in deadly spots like refuse dumps, gutter, and motor parks to attract public attention and sympathy.
For instance, a newly-born baby was found abandoned close to a new generation bank, off Racecourse Road, Murtala Square, Kaduna North Local Government area of Kaduna State just recently, He was at the mercy of local dogs and pigs who haunted the area, but was only rescued by passersby and handed over to the Kaduna State Police Command.
Kaduna State Leader of NURHI, Kabir Abdullahi, also cited an instance, in which a woman immediately after giving birth took the baby and dumped it at the doorstep of a traditional leader and walked away. Unknown to the traditional father, she met and exchanged pleasantry with the woman on his way back home. When he learnt of the baby, he remembered and quickly mobilised boys who ran after the woman and brought her back. She gave inability to take care of the child because she was not married as reason for her action.
He described baby dumping as one of the outcomes of lack of knowledge or oughtright rejection of right information about Family Planning (FP) contraceptives services due to several factors including tradition and religion. “There is virtually no district head that you go to that will not share his personal experience with you. It is big concern to them because most of the cases end up at their doorstep.
“Basically, the relationship between baby dumping and contraceptives is clear. A woman dumps a child because she doesn’t want it. So in other word, an unwanted pregnancy leads to unwanted baby and the unwanted baby is the baby that is dumped anyhow.
“NURHI’s concern is, rather than having unwanted pregnancy and unwanted baby, why not use contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancy. This is a menace associated with communities of unmarried people but who could not wait until marriage before having sex. So it is necessary for ladies in this category to visit any public hospital to access the contraceptive that suit them. It is free.
Abdullahi told Saturday Sun that his organization was currently working in some states including Kaduna to reduce their maternal mortality rate. “We are reviewing our work for the first one year in Kaduna. We are set for phase two. The paramount objectives is to scale up our intervention that has proven to be effective. We are moving into new geography. We are moving into additional eight local governments in addition to seven we had in one year making it 15. The focus is how to expand access to contraceptives for more women.
“If you look at statistics from the North, Kaduna State is standing alone with 20.1 per cent contraceptives prevalent rate (CPR), while other states like Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto having maximum of 1 per cent. It means these states need to learn from Kaduna State to save their women from maternal mortality rate. In Kaduna, we are targeting 47 per cent CPR by 2018 as contribution to 36 per cent national blueprint target for Nigeria by 2018. If the state is able to achieve this, it will change the agony surrounding mortality tendencies because it will reduce death associated with pregnancy by 40 per cent”, he said.
District Head of Doka, Kaduna Central, Alhaji Bala Muhammed Tijani, said he was always delighted each time the issue of child dumping was raised, because of his experience, noting that he had not ab initio thought for a moment that there would be a link between the concept of child-birth spacing until he was part of NURHI’s project in the state, which had revealed some of the social problems in the society today. “I began to see the picture clearer”. he continued, “It is true that we at the traditional institution have been bearing the burden more than any other person or institution. I do experience this virtually every two months and in some cases the frequency is even higher. I can tell you now that I have six children that my village head are taking care of whom we don’t know who their biological parents are. And these six children are being taken care of with my assistance in terms of their upbringing and these are the kinds of problems we undergo day after day, because we have been trained on how to handle these kinds of things as part of our duty.
“It is a real big problem and I think we need concerted effort, not only from local government, but state, federal and even international organizations. The country is being built without social system put in place for the needy. I am a District Head without a kobo as a vote to be able to implement any programme or policy or carry out any public function, yet, I do find a traditional way of getting things done the right way. Honestly the pressure is becoming unbearable now due to high demand.
Reverend Isaac Gbadero from Zaria Interfaith noted that issue of child dumping “has been with us though not publicised as it ought to be, because the society did not seem to care about it and maybe, because of our tradition.”
He also blamed it on the failure of parents at home. “Failure from home on the basis that if a child gets pregnant and she’s threatened, she will find a way of disposing that baby after birth. If parents are educating their children right from home on how to prevent themselves from even having sex before marriage, this will not be happening, because most of the women who indulged in this dastardly act are not in marriage. My Holy Bible tells me in 1st Corinthians Chapter 7:1-4 that if you cannot hold your body, get married. But unfortunately people don’t read their Bible to live what it says.”
However, Kaduna State Government through the Director of Social Welfare and Child Development, Ministry of Women and Social Development, Ibrahim Dabo, hinted that the cases were hardly reported to the ministry. He said the only one the ministry was aware of in recent times happened in 2015, although the baby involved later died.