By Nidal Chebbak
By Nidal Chebbak
Fez – When people are afraid, they tend to do horrible things they never thought they could do. Fear is a man’s, or in this article’s case, a woman’s biggest enemy or even humanity’s biggest enemy.
It is inconceivable to imagine a mother, with all the tenderness, compassion and love a mother carries for her child the moment she starts feeling his existence inside of her, throw this same “blessing”, that was turned into a curse, in the streets. Yes, that’s what fear can make some mothers do. Simply throwing their newly born babies in the streets, trash cans, hospital doors, gardens…
These mothers are single mothers who got pregnant outside of marriage. I shall not discuss who is right and who is wrong in this situation of getting pregnant because I personally feel more concerned about the way these mothers deal with the result of a mistake, which was dually shared between a man and a woman, the babies’ lives and safety.
In an early morning in August, 2010 and during my family’s yearly vacation which we then spent in Rabat, my father received a phone call from one of our neighbors about some shocking news. A newly born baby boy was found on a roof that’s considered part of our property. We live in Fez and our house is on the first floor of a building where windows overlook a small roof that was once a small garden. The newborn baby was found right there crying of hunger. The neighbors called the police who started their investigations immediately in an attempt to discover the identity of the mother.
The neighbor called my father to let him know that he took the necessary procedures and called the police who took the child into a shelter until the case was solved.
Another of our neighbors also testified that while his was going to the mosque for al-Fajr prayer, he saw a young woman standing there with a baby in her hands which was confirmed by some night car guards who also saw a young woman walking in that street in the early morning. With several specific descriptions of how that woman looked, the police were able to find the woman.
That year was remarkable for the number of incidents of that type in Fez. A few months earlier, new born twins were found in the middle of the night in a bag near the train rails by some random guys who were just hanging around. That area was extremely dangerous because of the railroads and wandering hungry dogs of the night and early morning. I remember how everyone thought it was a miracle that they both were still alive and not eaten by the hungry dogs or smashed under a train.
While I was writing this article and reflecting on those incidents, I started discussing the issue with one of my friends who had a story to tell about the issue. One day, last winter and while she was going to work in the early morning, she was passing by a closed trash can from which she heard what sounded like a baby crying. She froze for a while trying to make sure that the cry was coming from the trash can but she couldn’t really tell.
My friend was also caught by fear of what could happen to her if she searched and really found a baby there. She’ll be dragged to the police station countless times to testify, she’ll be part of an investigation, she’ll be part of story that she doesn’t want to be related to. She took a hard decision and left but the sound of the baby kept ringing in her ears so she told her colleague who comforted her saying that maybe she was just delusional, how can a baby be in trash can?!! Two hours later, the news of a baby boy found in a trashcan near a school on the way to the administration was spread all over the workplace and my friend’s doubt was a reality about which she took no action to change. So, there had been a baby in the trash can.
Those four babies were lucky and blessed enough that they weren’t harmed unlike other cases when the child is either killed then thrown or dies there of hunger and cold.
In May 21, 2012 in Tétouan, cleaning workers found a naked newborn girl in a trashcan dumped behind a tobacco company. The umbilical cord was still hanging from her belly, as well as bruises on the right side of her face along her ear. She was found at 1.45 am and workers called the police who started investigating right away to find the mother who had committed such a heinous crime against her baby.
In February, 2012 in Tinghir, two little boys were playing around when they discovered the corpse of a newborn baby boy thrown near a football stadium. The boy’s corpse was wrapped in a rug stained with blood. The police were informed and they opened an investigation about the case.
There are countless heartbreaking stories of such children who were brought to life by mistake and then their life was taken from them as brutally as no one can imagine, most of the times by their own mothers who were ashamed, afraid and horrified about what could happen to them.
According to the latest statistics provided by Insaf Association, which deals with mothers and children in unstable situations and has conducted a survey across the kingdom on single mothers and illegitimate children, 153 illegitimate children are born every day in Morocco, 24 of which are abandoned right after birth. Thirty-five percent of single mothers give birth to more than one illegitimate child.
We’ll need more sensitization campaigns in schools and institutions about this growing phenomenon and its horrific results either on the children or the mothers. Even in the case of repercussions from family members or others for becoming pregnant outside the institution of marriage, there should be other alternatives that could prevent any more harm to get to the children. More shelters, more health care centers and associations in villages like some of those already in cities are needed to take care of the children and to help the mothers become empowered and financially independent to deal with the cultural stigma they’ll face following the birth of these children instead of neglecting them to lead a life of forced prostitution and homelessness.