OUR VIEWPOINT: dumped baby, Django at opposite poles

2015-08-07 10:47
A new-born baby girl, swaddled in a blanket, was found abandoned on the doorstep of a Pietermaritzburg home. (Supplied, ER24)

A new-born baby girl, swaddled in a blanket, was found abandoned on the doorstep of a Pietermaritzburg home. (Supplied, ER24)

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ALTHOUGH we are unaware of the reason a woman abandoned a newborn on the doorstep of a Pietermaritzburg family, there can be no excuse, no acceptable motivation for such callous action.

It is unclear exactly how long the baby had lain there, but the mother should have considered the possibility that the infant could die or become seriously ill in the cold winter’s night.

That neither happened is no thanks to her.

Such an act should qualify for one to be charged with attempted murder, rather than child abandonment which the mother, who has been arrested, is now charged with.

So too should those who give birth in long-drop toilets, and who abandon babies in bins and on rubbish heaps.

Many options are open to mothers with babies they are unable to care for. In an enlightened South Africa, the adoption of children across race barriers is now common, and agencies — government and private — exist which facilitate such adoption. Babies can also be left at police stations or places of safety. There is simply no excuse for abandoning a child in circumstances that almost guarantee its death.

Religious bodies and leaders can continue pushing the “abstain until you are married” message, but, where it is obvious the message is not being heeded, and where absentee fathers leave many mothers fending alone for themselves and their children, they should also encourage contraceptive use.

By contrast, the efforts of Pietermaritzburg dog handler Sheldon Holland to get his explosives sniffer dog Django back after the two served together with the American military in Afghanistan are admirable. At the end of their tour, they were separated, with Holland returning to South Africa and Django to America.

However, Holland persisted in his efforts to get his dog back, taking his campaign to the Internet, where he gained significant support. Such was the response that he was able to fund a trip to the United States to visit Django and then to pay for the dog to be sent to South Africa. His cause has attracted such widespread attention that their reunion today is expected to be filmed by two major American television networks.

It is a horrible indictment on the condition of human compassion that while some can fight passionately for animals they form bonds with, others cannot care for babies they give birth to

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