Malaysia offers its first `baby hatch`: Reports

An NGO in Malaysia has opened the country`s first "baby hatch" for rescuing unwanted newborns.

Updated: May 30, 2010, 18:03 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: An NGO in Malaysia has opened
the country`s first "baby hatch" for rescuing unwanted
newborns, reports said today, as authorities battle increasing
cases of abandoned babies.

Modelled on similar services in Germany, Pakistan and
Japan, the NGO says the facility will allow mothers to leave
their babies anonymously at its premises in Petaling Jaya, in
Malaysia`s central Selangor state.

The hatch has a small door which opens to an incubator
bed on which a mother can place her baby. Once the door is
closed an alarm bell will alert the NGO`s staff to the baby`s
presence, after the mother has left.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil told a local newspaper that the service,
to be offered by the NGO OrphanCARE, would give desperate
mothers an alternative to abandoning or killing their babies.

"We must not allow ourselves to be held prisoner to the
belief that baby hatches encourage premarital sex," the New
Sunday Times also quoted her as saying.

Official statistics show 407 babies were abandoned
between 2005 and 2009 in Malaysia, a Southeast Asian nation
with a population of 28 million people. This year a total of
24 cases were recorded as of April.

Local media in recent months have highlighted cases of
newborn babies being abandoned at the roadside or in a rubbish
dump, prompting a ruling lawmaker to propose that the fathers
of abandoned babies be castrated.

In a case reported by state media in March, a baby boy
who was dumped at the roadside was found by passers-by with
his left hand bitten off by wild dogs.

Orphan CARE said it had 200 prospective parents on a
waiting list to adopt babies and gave an assurance that there
will be no legal repercussions for those who leave their
babies at the hatch.

PTI