Do not be quick to dump a baby. Mothers unable to take care of their children can contact the Department of Social Welfare for assistance instead of abandoning them or exposing them to harm and even death.
After assessment and investigations to determine the facts, the department can put the children, if they are above six years, in foster homes or shelters or put them up for adoption after the necessary legal requirements are adhered to.
Children below age six are put in children’s homes and could be put up for adoption after the necessary legal requirements are met.
The manageress of the Juvenile Girls Correctional Centre under the Department of Social Welfare, Mrs. Gifty Tekpor, disclosed this in an interview. She explained that the inability to care for the child would have to be demonstrated.
Mrs. Tekpor added that the department has several children who had been brought by their parents under such circumstances in their care but could not readily provide figures adding that such children, depending on their ages, could be temporarily catered for and returned to their mothers when they were in a position to take up their responsibility.
The department also organizes vocational training for such mothers to acquire skills that would enable them to make some money if investigations supported the fact that they were unemployed, leading to poverty.
Baby dumping issues reported in Ghana
The most recent case is the arrest by the Jasikan Police of a 21-year-old woman for allegedly dumping her day-old baby in a pit toilet on May 30
She was arrested alongside an older woman, believed to be her mother, who is said to have helped her commit the act.
On May 25, this year, a 20-year-old mother was arrested by the police for allegedly dumping her three-month-old male twins in a well, leading to their deaths.
Mrs. Tekpor identified some of the causes of abandonment by mothers as poverty due to unemployment which could also result in the lack of a fixed abode.
She said others could result from substance abuse, mental illness, having many children, and not knowing what to do or which organizations to approach when unable to care for their babies.
Mrs. Tekpor said that in some cases, the mother’s resort to abandoning the children due to broken homes, non-acceptance of the pregnancy by fathers, and the lack of family support.
The department has been intervening by taking such children away from their mothers and catering to them and sending the mothers to the hospital for management.
It is sometimes a challenge handling the report of such cases because some of such mothers did not remain at a location, making it difficult to find them.
The manageress appealed for support in kind and cash to enable the department to perform better since it is evident that the government cannot do it all alone.
It is an offense to abandon babies; police caution
Chief Superintendent of Police, Robert Freeman Tettey, has cautioned the public that it was an offense to abandon children, adding that the police would arrest such suspects and put them before the court.
The abandonment of a child constitutes an offense in Ghana. It is a misdemeanor if a person abandons or exposes a child under 12 years to danger as stipulated under section 71 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29)
It is also a misdemeanor if a person abandons or exposes a physically or mentally handicapped child (under 18) in a manner that will cause harm to the child. The term of imprisonment for misdemeanors is three years and below.
Under section 60 of Act 29, a person who intentionally and unlawfully causes harm to a living child during birth commits a second-degree felon, resulting in a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years.
A person who causes the death of a child commits murder or manslaughter, depending on the circumstances of the death, and such a person is liable to suffer death or life imprisonment.