Kuala Lumpur: In an appalling incident, a 16-year-old Malaysian schoolgirl kept a classmate`s schoolbag for 17 hours without realising that there was a dead newborn inside.
The classmate was handed the bag by the girl shortly after giving birth to the baby girl in the school.
Doctors in Kuala Terengganu found out about the birth when the girl sought medical treatment complaining of abdominal pains, leading to her confession that she had put the dead infant in a school bag and given it to her friend.
"They found the dead baby girl in the bag. The friend was traumatised when she learned that she had been carrying around a bag containing a dead baby," ACP Manoharan told reporters, adding that the post-mortem showed the baby was successfully delivered, but suffered bruises on the head and had water in the lungs which led to her death.
Malaysia has seen an increase in the number of baby dumping cases recently. After dropping from 102 cases in 2008 to 79 in 2009, the figure of baby dumping increased to 91 in 2010 and to 98 in 2011.
This year, so far 31 cases have been reported, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry deputy secretary-general Harjeet Singh said here.
Concerned at the increase in such cases, he said that the rise in numbers could be due to more reports being made and society becoming aware of the scourge.
Feedback from counselling sessions and case studies at several shelter homes for those aged under 18 listed peer pressure and lack of knowledge about reproductive health as the two most important factors that led to unwanted pregnancies, he said.
"The desire to fit in influenced many teenagers into adopting the lifestyle of their peers," he said after launching a "Say No to Baby Dumping" seminar here.
Singh said that teenagers mixed freely with little parental supervision these days.
He added that soon all government hospitals may be able to function as "hatches" for unwanted babies once a standard operating procedure was put in place.
Of the 31 cases of baby-dumping so far this year, 10 babies have survived while 19 died.
"The status of the remaining two babies has yet to be confirmed by the hospitals," Singh said.