10 Babies Are Dumped Every Month. Can Malaysia Do Better To Protect Unwanted Babies?

Pregnant and alone: In Malaysia, social stigma forces unwed mothers to give up babies
Source: CNA

Helpless, small and sometimes lifeless – babies are still being dumped and discarded in Malaysia. 

The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) statistics revealed that between 2018 and 2021, at least 10 babies were dumped within a month[1]

Most were found in housing areas, toilets, garbage disposal areas, sewerage systems and drains. These are common dumping grounds because there are no CCTV cameras, less frequented by the public and are easily accessible. – Siti Kamsiah Hassan, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner[1]

The heartbreaking cases of baby dumping have been an ongoing and long-standing issue in the country, threatening the lives of innocent babies. PDRM also revealed that in the four years between 2018 and 2021, there were a total of 443 babies reported discarded[1]

In 2020, a newborn baby with her umbilical cord still attached was found in a mineral water carton in Ampang[2]. In 2021, the body of a dead baby was discovered in Kuching with severe head injuries[3]. And this year, a newborn baby boy whose mother was an alleged rape victim was found dead with stab wounds in Terengganu[4]

Year after year, these horrific cases and news reports continue to shake the nation and we ought to question the root of the issue and how we can better protect life, right after birth.

Baby Dumping – Breaking It Down

For every baby that is dumped and reported, there are more unreported cases that are kept under wraps or go unnoticed.

Numerous sources have shed light on this issue, revealing that Malaysia is far behind in tackling the problem of baby dumping and part of the solution is starting with education. 

The lack of access to proper sexual education is an effect of poverty. Coming from low-income families restricts quality education and those living in poverty aren’t well versed on the issue, causing problems of sexual harassment and rape to be taken lightly[5]

Although traditional and religious points of view are honoured, we cannot ignore the fact that pre-marital sex is happening. For this reason, safe sex and available contraceptives must become a conversation among the youth. 

A person touched their exposed, pregnant belly with both hands
Source: TheAtlantic

When young teenage girls unexpectedly find themselves pregnant, it puts them in a position to decide whether to keep the baby or not. These decisions should not be made on the fly and teenage mothers should not carry the heavy burden of choosing the life or death of an unborn child.

In Malaysia, the act of abortion, pre-marital sex and conceiving out of wedlock remain controversial, making it harder for women to defend themselves. 

Without access to safe abortion or practical solutions, those experiencing unplanned pregnancies bring matters into their own hands, resulting in baby dumping that imposes threats on their physical and psychological health. Women and young girls are left traumatised by their experience and carry this guilt to their graves. 

Abortion In Malaysia

California protesters hold signs backing abortion rights during a march in Los Angeles in 2021. Photo by Elsa Seignol, REUTERS 

Source: CalMatters

100,000 abortions are performed annually by medical practitioners in middle-income countries with the proper laws in place[6]. Globally, numerous countries are still on the fence on the issue of abortion. 

The Malaysian law permits medical abortion under Section 312 of the Penal Code if such medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman[7]

However, abortion is illegal when it comes to varying circumstances of rape and underage pregnancy[8]

How do we ensure the well-being of a pregnant mother who does not want a baby? It seems that these women who are left without a choice, go out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

Since abortion is illegal except on medical grounds, there is a need to educate teenagers and adults on the laws related to abortion and its offences. – The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry[9] 

Let The Facts Speak 

Of the 443 cases of babies dumped between 2018 and 2021, 149 were found alive while 294 babies were found dead. 66% of the babies are dead and beyond saving[1].   

According to the statistics, the numbers have dropped slightly; 2018 (128 cases), 2019 (125 cases), 2020 (104 cases) and 2021 (86 cases) – but this is likely due to the pandemic and nationwide lockdowns that restricted social movement.  

Travel and social gathering restrictions during the MCO saw a slight reduction in baby dumping cases with no incidents of out-of-wedlock childbirths, in addition to office closures which also curtailed physical activities. But for me, the 2018-2021 figures are still high with an average of 10 dumped baby cases a month. – Siti Kamsiah Hassan, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner[1]

Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner Siti Kamsiah Hassan shared insights into baby dumping in an interview with a Bernama journalist, recently. -BERNAMA
Siti Kamsiah Hassan, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner. Source: SinarDaily

The Malaysian law upholds the punishable law of infanticide, an act causing the death of a newborn child under Section 309(B)[8] .

Whenever a report is lodged and a baby is found, PDRM will conduct an investigation. This is our commitment so that those found guilty of the offence will be brought to justice; it will serve as a lesson for others not to take the same route. -Siti Kamsiah Hassan, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner[1]

We cannot speak on behalf of those who carried out these unjust acts. However, their distressed state and other contributing environments shouldn’t be overlooked.  This is why the mental health of the individual found guilty of the crime will also be considered in court rulings[9]

Reasons That Fuel Such Heinous Crimes

Based on PDRM investigation records, baby dumping cases take place due to the first factor, that is out-of-wedlock pregnancy, which means the victim or suspect becomes pregnant and later dumps the baby – Siti Kamsiah Hassan, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner[1]

A substantial amount of unwanted pregnancies involved teens or youth, due to the lack of access to sexual education and access to contraceptives. Being ignorant of such matters ends up derailing their lives, impacting their education and bringing on psychological effects. 

To avoid parental knowledge, the overwhelmed suspect, in the advanced stage of pregnancy, would hit the panic button and decide to remove the evidence. Fearing that other people, especially their family members would know the truth, they then committed these heartless acts – Siti Kamsiah Hassan, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner[1]

The empathy between families and society is equally crucial. Afraid of being shunned by families accompanied by social stigma, many young women leave their homes and are left clueless. If supported, these women don’t have to make choices that place themselves and their babies in danger. 

There is a need for holistic and integrated action to educate not only girls but also importantly the boys, parents and community on our collective responsibility for this issue. -Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister[3]

What Can We Do?

They need not be alone when help is available at hand. – Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister[3]

With frequent cases of baby dumping making headlines, Malaysians are responsible for making sure at least one person out there is educated on this matter. Baby hatches and shelters are a fragment of an effective solution. 

We are accountable for shedding light on the importance of sexual education, legal literacy and most importantly, consent. As we dive deep and understand the scale of the issue, only then are we able to help those who are in need. 

YB Hannah Yeoh, Malaysian politician and former Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development calls for a different approach for these women to instead give their babies up for adoption. 

There are a lot of families who are waiting to adopt, and they are willing to raise these children. We are pleading to people to not kill these babies by throwing them away [10]YB Hannah Yeoh

Hannah Yeoh SOSMA PH UMNO MPs absent
Source: MalaysiaGazette

Be sure to share these helpful organisations with those who need them or see how you can lend a hand: 

Women’s Aid Organisation provide free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, rape, and other forms of violence. Their services are guided by the belief that every woman has the right to live free from violence, and the right to make decisions over her life.

OrphanCare Foundation advocates and works to give children in institutions and unplanned newborn babies the opportunity to grow in the care of a family.

ForYouthInitiative(FYI) is a Malaysian based organization for Youth Empowerment in Sexual Reproductive Health. 

Explore Our Sources

  1. Sinar Daily. (2022). Baby dumping still rampant. Link.
  2. SAYS. (2020). Newborn Girl Found At Ampang Roadside In A Mineral Water Carton. Link.
  3. Dayak Daily. (2021). Fatimah : Baby dumping case under investigation. Link.
  4. SAYS. (2022). 15-Year-Old Alleged Rape Victim Arrested After Her Newborn Was Found Dead With Stab Wounds. Link.
  5. Wiki Impact. (2020). Poor Sex Education Perpetuates Painful Social Issues. Link.
  6. SAYS. (2020). Reproductive Rights Advocacy Group Lists 4 Strategies To Address Baby Dumping In Malaysia. Link.
  7. Puvaneswaran.K. (2020). Abortion in Malaysia. Link.
  8. CodeBlue. (2020). The Facts Of Unwanted Pregnancies , Abortions and Baby Dumping – Dr SP Choong. Link.
  9. CodeBlue. (2020). Malaysia’s State Of Abortion Is A Losing Game For Women. Link.
  10. CNA. (2019). Pregnant and alone: In Malaysia, social stigma forces unwed mothers to give up babies. Link.

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