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.”