Tan Sri

Topics: Infant, Childbirth, Pregnancy Pages: 72 (25061 words) Published: July 30, 2013
MONOGRAPH seRIes • 2008

Baby-dumping and Infanticide


Dianne Hubbard
Gender Research & Advocacy Project LeGAL AssIstANce ceNtRe No. 1, Legal Assistance Centre, 2008 Baby-dumping and Infanticide – Monograph Windhoek, Namibia


The author would like to acknowledge the contributions to this paper by the following persons:   

Rachel Coomer of the Legal Assistance Centre Rachel Thompson, visiting intern at the Legal Assistance Centre Christa Rudolf von Rohr, Masters student in Social Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

This publication was made possible through support provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID.

© Legal Assistance Centre, 2008      4 Körner Street Windhoek P.O. Box 604 Windhoek Namibia 264-061-223356 264-061-234953 Email – info@lac.org.na Website – www.lac.org.na

An Adobe Acrobat (pdf) version of this publication is posted on the LAC website. Printed and bound by John Meinert Printing (Pty) Ltd in Windhoek. ii Baby-dumping and Infanticide – Monograph No. 1, Legal Assistance Centre, 2008 ISBN 978-99945-68-33-8

Baby-dumping and Infanticide

Dianne Hubbard
Gender Research & Advocacy Project of the Legal Assistance centre


nfanticide and baby-dumping are crimes, but these acts are also cries for help. New mothers – especially young mothers – may feel overwhelmed by the idea of parenthood. They may have difficulty coping with the drastic physical and emotional changes they are experiencing. They may be suffering from the depression sometimes brought on by the hormonal changes associated with giving birth. They may be convinced that they will be unable to provide for the child, and they may feel that there is no one they can turn to for help. They may fear the shame of having given birth outside of marriage, or they may fear that they will be unable to continue their studies. None of these feelings can excuse the abandonment or murder of a child. But they show that communities can take steps to prevent infanticide and babydumping by giving mothers support and reassurance.

statistics and press reports
It is difficult to estimate the true extent of infanticide and baby-dumping in Namibia, as such cases may go unreported. However, police statistics and anecdotal information suggest that the problem is a significant one. Recent police statistics do not separate infanticide from other forms of murder.1 However, an examination of case law on infanticide indicates that charges of 1

Statistics kindly provided on request by Namibian Police, Ministry of Safety and Security. 1

Baby-dumping and Infanticide – Monograph No. 1, Legal Assistance Centre, 2008

murdering a newborn RePORteD cAses OF cONceALMeNt OF BIRtH, 2003-2007 infant are usually comYear Number of cases bined with charges of 2003 6 concealment of birth. The table on the r ight 2004 13 shows statistics for the 2005 17 charge of concealment 2006 15 of birth in recent years. 2007 23 There were almost Source: Namibian Police, April 2008 equal numbers of male and female infants involved in these cases, suggesting that sex preference is not playing any role.2 Although we cannot be sure that the concealment of birth cases are equal to the number of infanticides and infant abandonments, this is the best indicator which could be extracted from the statistics provided by the police. The concealment of birth cases suggest that infanticide and baby-dumping could be on the increase in recent years. It is possible to determine from the statistical summary provided by the police how many murder victims were juveniles (under age 18), but it is not possible to separate juvenile victims from infant victims. The RePORteD cAses OF MURDeR OF JUVeNILes, 2003-2007 second table on the...

Links: accessed 27 April 2008. See also www.adopting.org/adoptions/new-study-shows-safe-havenlaws-causing-problems-not-solving-them-press-release.html, accessed 2 April 2008. S v Rufaro, 1987 (1) SA 431 (ZS). At page 434. At pages 434-5. 39
69 70 71
Baby-dumping and Infanticide – Monograph No. 1, Legal Assistance Centre, 2008
Another judge in the case (Beck JA) dissented on this point, noting that a mother might callously kill her child and still be able to receive a sentence of only five years
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