The corpse of a premature baby boy was discovered yesterday inside a Coast Milk tin on the island of Villingli, the second abandoned infant found in as many weeks.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the dead child, believed by forensic examiners to have been born three months premature, was discovered in the discarded container near the powerhouse area of the island.
The baby was taken to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ for forensic examination before being buried, according to the police.
On May 5 a dead infant was been found in a plastic bag in the swimming track area of Male’. A medical examination later concluded that the baby’s had sustained cuts, bruises and other wounds.
Shiyam said that yesterday’s discovery of the dead infant on Villingli was not believed by police to reflect an escalating problem in the country concerning child abandonment or abortion. However, he said police did have serious concerns about the health implications for mothers of these abandoned children.
“Although we know this [abandonment] is happening, it is not something we believe is a growing issue. However, we request the public not support people who are thinking of abandoning a baby,” he said. “We are very concerned about the health of the mothers of these children, who are not receiving proper medical treatment or the drugs they may require for recovery.”
Police added that they had not yet made any arrests in connection with the discovery of either body and asked for members of the public with any possible information about the case to come forward.
In November last year another abandoned newborn was discovered alive in some bushes near the Wataniya telecommunications tower in Hulhumale’.
Abortion is illegal in the Maldives except to save a mother’s life, or if a child suffers from a congenital defect such as thalassemia. Several studies on HIV in the Maldives have identified risk factors including high levels of promiscuity and little use of contraception, and anecdotal evidence points overwhelmingly to a high rate of abortion.
In an article on the subject in 2009, Minivan News reported that many women unable to travel to Sri Lanka resort to illegal abortions performed by unskilled individuals in unhygienic settings.
Abortion-inducing pills and injections administered by amateur abortionists are one recourse while others turn to harmful vaginal preparations, containing chemicals such as bleach or kerosene. Although infrequent, some insert objects into their uterus or induce abdominal trauma, such is the stigma of having a child out of wedlock.