Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Baby dumping: When Muslim leaders are busy with ‘manufactured sensitivities’

Baby dumping: When Muslim leaders are busy with ‘manufactured sensitivities’

By Datuk Zaid Ibrahim

A FEW days ago, there was a report of a school girl being arrested for throwing away her baby. This Form 5 girl dumped her 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 not want to be ostracised by her family and the community. Shame can drive a person to do unthinkable acts.

So many of these incidents took place in our country but somehow the harrowing acts of baby dumping did not stir enough emotion 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 do not reveal too much of your body if you are a woman, do not sell beer in the Muslim majority areas, never comment on Muslim laws if you are a non-Muslim.

The latest “sensitive subject” is the uproar created when a company started selling whiskey 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. Does 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 do not 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 their leaders to have tangible actions and not engage in” 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 come up concrete plans to stop baby dumping. Arresting a young girl is not difficult but helping and providing them counselling, while saving their lives is the right way to help these 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 education 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 poor girls, for they have committed sin and “shamed” the family and religion. That is why I think most of the dumping is done by Muslim girls. The authorities can prove me wrong by publishing the data of the babies found.

Come up real solutions, not rhetoric

From what I know, the people who are doing something useful in dealing with baby dumping are from non-governmental organisations (NGO). 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 ” where the babies are left in hatches instead of getting thrown in the drains.

Unfortunately, they only have three centres in the Peninsula but they need more all over the country. Without the safety of these hatches, more babies will be abandoned and some, left to die.

Why can’t the Government do more to address this problem? The minister in charge of Women Affairs is a Muslim woman. Together with the Education Minister, they can easily take a more proactive approach in dealing with the problem.

Where is our ex 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.

They shun difficult issues and fear extremists who may accuse them of encouraging promiscuity or sex before marriage, an accusation they could easily counter if they are sincere in helping Muslim women.

However, saving lives is apparently not strong enough reasons for them to act decisively. – Oct 26, 2021

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