Listening to the cries of the one-day-old baby girl abandoned at Sanquelim my heart sank. When there are a number of couples who are desperately praying for the gift of a child, it is quite disheartening to see some who due to varied reasons, best known to them, abandon their child. Abandonment of newborn babies is although not new to us it definitely paints a picture of our society. As Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” The pandemic might have taught us great values in life, but it has brought to the forefront social evils that still lurk in our society.
Social evils like poverty and gender inequality have left our society feeble and injured. Fortunately, discussions are happening on educational levels with regard to gender equality but that is the least. One can notice the divide very clearly at least during these pandemic times. The abandoned children add to the fact that immorality, social inequality, and continuous harassment of women are at play.
The thought of discarding a life along with the innocence and vulnerability of that life is scary. If an abandoned child is rescued and placed in healthy conditions can grow up to be a blessing in society. Many orphans or abandoned children have found a blessed home that has assured a bright future for these children. But what about those who still wait in desperation. An abandoned child is usually malnourished and injured due to animal bites and other circumstances. Some do not survive the enforcing environment and succumb to mental retardation, disabilities, and severe trauma.
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‘Poskem: Goans in the Shadows’ by Wendell Rodricks brought out this aspect of abandonment of children leading to adoption and the perils related to it. Poskem means adopted and in Goa, the term receives a pejorative connotation. As earlier, an adopted child was exploited by the adopting family not just physically but sexually.
The reasons for abandoning the child would be a woman being the victim of rape, unmarried mothers, a couple unable to financially support a child, and not wanting a girl child which is most often the case. But these reasons do not justify the abandonment. Therefore, what is necessary is to awaken the mindset of the society that criminalizes an unmarried mother or a rape survivor. Those financially insufficient must be alerted as to the possibility of surrendering a child to capable parents who will maintain, nurture, and care for the child.
The process of surrendering a child as per Section 35 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 states, the incapacitated parents of the child due to varied physical, economic, and social reasons can file a surrender of the child by taking the child to the Child Welfare Committee. Thereafter, a ‘surrender deed’ is executed after inquiry and counselling procedures by the Committee. The surrendering parent is given two months time to reconsider the decision which gives an opportunity to think about the pros and cons of the decision. If after two months the parent has not reconsidered the decision then the relationship between the parent and the child is terminated and the child is free for adoption.
If the child is below 6 years then the child is sent to Specialized Adoption Agency, if not the child is sent to a Children’s Home. Simply abandoning causes trauma and tension in both parties. A formal surrender will ensure the safety of the child and the safe upkeep of the child. Although the future is uncertain, at least the parent shows responsibility in the surrendering procedure.
Pope Francis said, “We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished, and protected.” Children may at times be looked as burdens but they are our future and we ought to protect and nurture them. When a baby is born in a family it is a bundle of joy. For some, a child's birth may be traumatic because of the circumstances in which the conception has taken place. Abandonment or abortion in this case is certainly not an option. Give the newborn a chance to live. If not you, the umpteen desiring the gift of a child will get an opportunity to take care of it.
“It is God who gives life. Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb,” said Pope Francis. Let us remind ourselves that our lives are a gift from the Lord. If we have received it freely we are to assure to protect the life given to our neighbours. Irrespective of whatever we might have gone through. We must learn to protect and respect each other.
Our society needs to deconstruct itself and learn to be more human. Instead of pinning and judging people one needs to look at the other with a compassionate eye. We change to scorpions quite often stinging unnecessarily rather than embracing with love and being charitable to our brethren. The diseased society’s soul needs healing and that will happen only if it is treated with the ointment of love. Our intention must be to love and if love is at the back of our mind then I believe children will not be abandoned and healing is sure to take place.
Copyright ©2020 THE GOAN EVERYDAY
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