Abandoned Newborns: A Troubling Reflection Of Our Times

Source The Ghana Report

In a world that often celebrates the miracle of birth, it is surprising how the issue of child abandonment is gradually making headlines.

Each heart-wrenching incident begs the question — what drives mothers and couples to forsake their own flesh and blood?

This deeply concerning issue, once considered isolated, has now assumed alarming proportions, spanning various communities.

The headlines narrate tales that are difficult to fathom — infants left on doorsteps, in trash bins, or public spaces — their fragile lives abandoned without mercy.

Some schools of thought suggest that the reasons behind newborn abandonment are varied and complex.

They encompass a range of factors, including mental health struggles, economic hardship, societal stigma, and a lack of awareness about available options.

The Ghana Report seeks to bring to the fore some of the individual cases of mothers and couples that made headlines.

Below are some of the reported cases.

Achimota Forest Incident

It was shocking that a baby could be left near a forest. But such was the fate of a little girl who could neither run from attackers nor a wild animal.

All she could do was cry in the face of danger. And that’s what she did.

Rescuers found the month-old baby in the Achimota Forest, located in the Greater Accra Region, in August 2023.

A group of women who were on their way to the forest for prayer activities heard the distinct cries of the infant.

Initially, they thought the cries were from a baby of a nursing mother from their group, so they continued towards their destination.

However, the persistence of the cries raised suspicion, leading one of the women to investigate the source.

Her search revealed a distressing scene – a baby girl bound in a black polythene bag alongside an African print cloth.

Grasping the gravity of the situation, the woman quickly informed her companions, leading to her rescue.

Gomoa East Incident

On August 15, 2023, a 3-month-old baby girl was abandoned in an uncompleted building at Gomoa Akraman in the Central Region.

A group of construction workers discovered the baby.

A steel bender at the site, Joseph Mensah, who was part of the team that made the discovery, said after the baby was found, they reported the incident to the police.

Dumped In A Bush In The Central Region

Similar to the forest incident. But in this case, the baby was just a three-day-old baby.

The incident happened in February—a month of love.

A three-day-old baby boy was abandoned in the bush.

He was found at Moree, a fishing community in the Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese District in the Central Region.

A resident, Sampson Appiah, had gone to fetch water when he heard the baby crying.

The baby was wrapped in a polythene and dumped under a plantain farm.

Church Incident

The scripture teaches us that God is the father of the fatherless and protector of widows.

Perhaps, these were the exact thoughts of the woman who decided to abandon her baby in front of a church.

To ensure there was no confusion, she left explicit instructions to the New Covenant Apostolic Church at Somanya, in the Eastern Region, where the child had been left.

The note read, “I regret doing this, but that is the only way this baby can have a chance to live. Please, she was born just yesterday night. Please take care of her. I’m sorry, please forgive me. God bless you”.

The baby was found in the early hours of Sunday, July 16, when congregants were engaged in a clean-up exercise ahead of service.

The baby was placed in a white box with its umbilical cord still attached.

Dogs Discover Day-Old-Baby Dumped At Ofaakor

On July 26, 2023, a day-old baby boy was found abandoned in a bush at Kasoa Ofaakor in the Awutu Senya East Municipality of the Central Region by roving dogs.

Residents in the area noticed the dogs’ reactions and followed, only to discover that a newborn baby had been dumped in the bush.

Investigations revealed the mother was not a resident of the community.

St Francis Hospital Incident

A 22-year-old mother, Deborah Appiah, abandoned her day-old baby girl at the St. Francis Hospital in the Assin Fosu Municipality of the Central Region.

The mother of four is said to have delivered at Assin Fosu Policlinic, but the nurses noticed the newborn baby had an umbilical mass which was covered by a peritoneal sac and thus referred her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), at the same hospital.

The unemployed mother realizing the condition of the baby, inexplicably absconded and abandoned the baby.

According to the doctor of the facility, Agbematu Emmanuel, the baby needed surgical intervention to survive since the overlying peritoneum was infected and discharged offensive fluids.

Additionally, the management of St. Francis Hospital arranged for a referral to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital for the surgery since the baby’s condition was deteriorating.

The cost of the surgery was approximately GH¢3,000.00. This is purely a case of financial constraint.

She was later arrested and charged with abandoning the baby and exposing her to harm.

Refuse Dump Incident

A day-old baby was abandoned at a refuse dump at Atasomanso, a suburb of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.

The lifeless baby was found wrapped in a black plastic bag by the refuse attendant in the area.

A portion of its umbilical cord was still attached to the navel and wrapped in a blood-stained white cloth.

According to residents, it was the first time such an accident had happened in the community.

“Since 18 years in this community, I haven’t heard or seen anything of this kind. This is my first time,” a shocked resident at the scene said.

However, the refuse attendant explained his predecessor had found several aborted fetuses in the past.

Baby Abandoned At Beahu

A 21-year-old mother abandoned her three-month-old baby at Beahu in the Ahanta West Municipality of the Western Region.

Ama Tawiah reportedly left her baby boy on a footpath near a bush in the farming community of Beahu in December 2022.

The baby was discovered by some women who had gone to the bush to look for firewood.

The mother later had a change of heart and reported herself to the police.

She confessed to abandoning her baby because the father refused to accept the pregnancy.

Couple Dump Baby In A Forest

A midwife and her husband were arrested by the Esiama District Police Command at Ellembelle in the Western Region for dumping a 4-year-old in a forest.

According to the Assembly Member for the Asaasetre-Ebowu Electoral Area, Barnabas Ewureku, the couple abandoned their child after a fetish priest claimed she was an evil child.

“I went to the farm, and on my way back, I heard a baby crying. I was scared because the place was a deep forest, and there was no way a baby could go there alone. I quickly came home and informed the chiefs for assistance.

“We went there and met a fetish priest who was bold enough to tell us he had left the baby there because she was an evil child. We tried to rescue the baby, but this fetish priest relocated her,” he narrated.

Mr Ewureku said the fetish priest and his assistant were arrested after all efforts to rescue the child failed.

After hours of searching, the baby girl was later found wrapped in weeds with concoctions all over her.

Her parents were also picked up.

What does the law say?

Section 1 of the Children’s Act 1998 defines a child as a person below the age of 18 years.

Section 2, which talks about the welfare principle, states that the best interest of the child shall be paramount in any matter concerning a child.

It adds that the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration by any court, person, institution or other body in any matter concerned with a child.

Section 5 speaks directly to the right to grow up with parents. The law states that no person shall deny a child the right to live with his parents and family and grow up in a caring and peaceful environment.

However, in some cases where children are allowed to leave with other people, it must be proven beyond doubt that living with the biological parents would cause significant harm to the child; the child would be subjected to serious abuse or not in the best interest of the child.

Section 6, which addresses parental duty and responsibility, states that no parent shall deprive a child of his welfare.

It adds that a parent must protect the child from neglect, discrimination, violence, abuse, exposure to physical and moral hazards and oppression.

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