Baby girl found in bag pronounced dead

An abandoned baby girl who was discovered inside a bag at a residence in Maafanu, Malé, has been pronounced dead today.

The baby was discovered at midnight last night, police told Minivan News, estimating that the she had been left inside the bag since yesterday.

Police then took the baby to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), where the child was pronounced dead at 1pm today. Local media have reported the incident to have been infanticide.

The mother of the baby has not yet been taken into custody, added police, who declined to give any other information about the mother and father of the child.

Local newspaper Haveeru has reported family members as saying that the cause of death was suffocation.

Sources from the family, who had not been aware of the pregnancy, were also reported to have said the 18-year-old had given birth alone in the bathroom of her residence on Friday.

“From her stomach, or her actions, we were not aware that she was pregnant. However we previously questioned her about her not getting her menstruation periods,” a family member told the paper.

“She replied then that her periods are irregular, and that it is the norm to have three or four month delays. She was agile and often climbed up the stairs to the third floor with bottles of water and things quite easily. However, it raised suspicions that on Friday she was often clutching her belly,” the family source continued.

The family member said that people in the household had questioned her out of concern on Friday as she was bleeding profusely. The girl, however, refused to admit anything was wrong though the family eventually took her to hospital.

“She didn’t admit to anything even after she was taken into hospital on Friday. However, doctors kept questioning her about her marital status,” a young female member of the girl’s family told Haveeru.

“Then yesterday she confessed that she gave birth alone and flushed the baby down the toilet. The people of this house were sleepless with fright when today she said she gave birth and put the baby into a suitcase in the room.”

Family reported the matter to police after the girl’s confession. The mother is still hospitalised.

The family is said to have expressed regret about the incident, stating that they would have taken care of the infant if the girl had confessed rather than resorting to infanticide.

Issues regarding a lack of support services for women with unwanted pregnancies in the Maldives have been well-documented in the past.

A report entitled ‘Maldives Operational Review for the ICPD Beyond 2014‘, carried out by the Department of National Planning, claimed that incidents of infanticide and unsafe abortions are symptoms of a lack of sexual education in young Maldivians.

The report identified, “clear indicators of the imperative need to provide access to information on sexual reproductive health and reproductive health services to the sexually active adolescents and youth population.”

Infanticide also appears to be increasing, as demonstrated by media reports cited in the study, which included several new born babies and few premature babies abandoned in parks, buried in secluded places, or thrown into the sea.

“These are clear indications for the need of life skills programmes and reproductive health education,” the study suggested. “Access and utilisation of contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies must also be advocated to minimise these issues.”


Mother of abandoned baby requests custody of child

A mother arrested this week after her baby was found abandoned on a pavement in Male’ has requested custody of the child, Police have said.

According to the Head of Family and Child Protection Hasssan Shifau, the mother of the abandoned baby is still in police custody.  Authorities have added that any decision to hand over the child would be made by the Gender Ministry.

State Gender Minister Aishath Rameela told local media on Friday (December 28) that a decision on whether to grant custody of the child to the mother had yet to be made.

Rameela stated that the ministry would have to find out if the mother had suffered any physical or psychological trauma before she abandoned the infant.

“Either way we will hold the woman responsible for negligence. So for the time being we will not handover the baby to her,” Rameela said.

According to local newspaper Haveeru the child is to be taken to a children’s shelter in Villimale after being released from hospital.


Abandoned baby discovered on Male’ pavement

A baby was discovered abandoned on the side of a road in the Maafannu Ward of Male’ early this morning, police have announced.

According to the Maldives Police Service, the child was discovered at 5:45am today on the pavement in front of a house called Release.

Local media has reported that the child, thought to be female, was discovered by a woman in the house after she had heard its cries. The baby was claimed to have been discovered placed on top of a plastic bag.

Authorities have confirmed that police officers were called to the scene early this morning before taking the child to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in the capital.

A police statement has said that the child was found to be in a healthy condition by doctors at IGMH. The Police Family and Child Protection Department is now investigating the case, while no arrests in connection with the incident have been made at present.

There have been a number of recent incidents reported in the media where pregnant women have been forced to take desperate measures such as self-induced abortions, infanticide or abandoning infants.

Earlier this month, a 26-year old male and 20-year old female were reportedly arrested in connection to the discovery of a five month-old foetus buried on a beach on the island of Maradhoo Feydhoo in Seenu Atoll.

Meanwhile in June, police recovered the body of a newborn infant buried in the outdoor shower of a house on Shaviyani Feydhoo island. The baby’s mother was identified as a 15-year old school student.

Over the last two years, three other newborns have been found dead in the country.  Over the same period there has been two separate incidents where newborn children were discovered abandoned but alive.

Two foetuses were reported discovered during this two year period, one hidden in a milk tin and the other at the bottom of Male’s municipal swimming pool. Another fully-developed baby was thrown into a park having apparently been strangled with underwear tied around its neck.


Man and woman arrested in Seenu Atoll over buried foetus

A 26-year old male and 20 year-old-female have reportedly been arrested by police in connection with the discovery of a five month-old foetus found buried on a beach on the island of Maradhoo Feydhoo in Seenu Atoll yesterday.

Local media has announced that the two suspects, reported to be a married couple, were presently being held in custody.

Police discovered the foetus buried on a beach on Maradhoo Feydhoo after local witnesses reported a motorist acting suspiciously in the area on Friday evening, according to local newspaper Haveeru.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Dr Aishath Rameela, State Minister for Gender, Family, and Human Rights, told Minivan News that her department had not received any official report from the police or the local council on the matter.

Dr Rameela added that the Gender Ministry was awaiting an official report by the Maldives Police Service before it could begin providing assistance in the case.

“Right now as the situation stands, we are not actively involved [with the case]. All we know is that there is a deceased child,” she said, adding that she had, at the time of press, only received information on the case through local media.

“In terms of this case, we don’t know who the mother is or is she is under-age. We also do not know who the culprits may be.”

Dr Rameela added that in cases of under-age pregnancy or suspected child abuse her department worked to support police in their investigations, with law enforcement officials unable to question children without a case worker assigned from the Gender Ministry.

She stressed that the ministry, through 19 island centres across the country, sought to provide protection to child victims of sexual abuse and ensure they remained safe following an incident.

Desperate measures

While police are yet to reveal details of the case, there have been a number of recent incidents reported in media where pregnant women have been forced to take desperate measures, such as self-induced abortions, infanticide or abandoning infants.

In June, police recovered the body of a newborn infant buried in the outdoor shower of a house on Shaviyani Feydhoo island. The baby’s mother was identified as a 15 year-old school student.

In the last two years, three newborns have been found dead in the country, with a further two newborn children discovered abandoned but alive.

Two foetuses were discovered in this two year period, one hidden in a milk tin and the other at the bottom of Male’s municipal swimming pool.  Another fully-developed baby was thrown into a park after having apparently been strangled with underwear tied around its neck.  The two babies found abandoned and alive have since been placed under state care.

The Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) has described these incidents, as well as the figures detailing an increase in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, as evidence of a sexual health crisis in the Maldives.

Nazeera Najeeb, who leads the reproductive health unit of the CCHDC, told Minivan News in an interview earlier this year that the centre was witnessing an “alarming” increase in cases of underage and unplanned pregnancies, where some girls are getting pregnant “without even knowing it”.

“These unwanted pregnancies are subsequently resulting in more unsafe abortions, baby dumping or infanticide,” she noted.

To curb these perceived problems, Najeeb stressed the need for implementing a comprehensive sex education curriculum in and outside educational institutions to create greater awareness on sexual and reproductive health subjects.

Though the concept of sex education is widely supported by health authorities, including former Health Minister Dr Ahmed Jamsheed, efforts to implement such practices nationally have been limited.


Two women arrested in connection with the discovery of dead baby in Villingili

Two women have been arrested in connection to the discovery of discarded six month foetus in Villingili, found on Friday inside a Coast Milk tin.

Deputy head of police Serious and Organised Crime Department Inspector Abdulla Nawaz told media today that police had arrested a 30 year old woman from Noonu Atoll who was the suspected mother of the baby, and a 24 year old woman from Kaafu Atoll who was alleged to have assisted her deliver the baby prematurely.

Nawaz said that police were now examining the body of the 30 year old woman after she confessed to giving birth two days ago but was unable to tell police where the baby was.

The 24 year old had meanwhile confessed that she had assisted Shaira in delivering the baby prematurely, Nawaz said.

Abortion is illegal in the Maldives, although an unreleased 2007 by the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) found the practice was believed to be widespread due to the social stigma faced by a woman bearing a child out of wedlock.

Nawaz said that police had also obtained information about the baby found dead in Male’ track swimming area in early May, and were seeking to verify the report.

This morning the body of a newborn baby boy was discovered in a park in Hulhumale’,  with underwear tied tightly around his neck.

Spokesperson for Hulhumale’ Hospital Dr Ahmed Ashraf said the baby may have died from asphyxiation because of the restricted air passage.

‘’When the baby was found the knot was a bit loose, but the marks on its neck shows that it was tied tightly around the neck,’’ Dr Ashraf said.


Doctor’s examination shows dead infant’s body had cuts, wounds and bruises

Doctors examining the body of an dead infant found in a bag in the swimming track area have reported that the baby’s body had cuts, bruises and other wounds.

A police officer swimming in the track area on Thursday discovered the corpse of the premature baby underwater.

“The doctor said there were three cuts in the arms, not very deep cuts,’’ said spokesperson for Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), Zeenath Ali.

‘’There were two bruises on a leg and two wounds to the head,” she added.

She said it was difficult to say the cause of the injuries.

‘’It may be the ropes in the area caused  these injuries,’’ she said, adding that the infant appeared to have been born 26-28 weeks prematurely.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam also confirmed that several injuries were found on the infant’s body.

‘’We cannot say the cause of the injuries exactly,’’ Shiyam said. ‘’The dead body has now been laid to rest.’’

He said police were currently investigating the case.

Local media reported that the baby was bleeding when it was taken out of the water and that the umbilical cord and placenta were still attached. Haveeru published a picture of infant which appeared to have been put in a plastic bag.

In November last year another abandoned newborn female baby was discovered alive in some bushes near the Wataniya telecommunications tower in Hulhumale’.

As a Muslim country, 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.


Police search Hulhumale hospital during investigation of abandoned baby

The police yesterday searched Hulhumale’ hospital to investigate the circumstances around the discovery of an abandoned infant found last week.

An abandoned newborn female baby was discovered in some bushes near the Wataniya telecommunications tower in Hulhumale’ last week. The baby was first taken to Hulhumale’ hospital for treatment and now has been transferred to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

Initial reports in the media said the baby appeared to have been born prematurely and discarded by the mother. The umbilical cord was still attached to the infant.

Police Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police had collected “necessary information” for the investigation from Hulhumale’ hospital.

”The baby is now in a good condition at IGMH,” Shiyam said, adding that ”no further information can be disclosed yet.”

Head of Hulhumale’ hospital Dr Ahmed Ashraf told Minivan News that the infant’s condition was “very weak” when she was first brought to the hospital.

“Her condition was very weak when she was brought here that day in the afternoon,” Dr Ashraf said. “We treated the infant and her condition was stable when she was referred to IGMH that evening.”

He said police officers searched the hospital after obtaining a warrant from the Criminal Court, and “collected information they needed for the investigation.”