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05 July 2013

Growing numbers of women "throwing away" their babies in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 5 July 2013 - ETLJB has over the last few years published several reports on cases of babies being abandoned by their mothers in East Timor. The latest case was particularly appalling when the remains of a baby were found on a rubbish dump apparently having been partly eaten by dogs.

Now, according to the Secretary of State for the Equality Promotion, there is a growing number of cases of women abandoning their babies in every village in East Timor and has urged women's groups to design programs for women who abandon their babies.

The Dili Weekly reported that the Secretary of state of the Promotion of Equaity asked “Why are women throwing away their babies without good reason? I hope that women are the first influence to building peace within the village and within the nation, and it’s important to resolve these issues because we hear that women throw away their babies in each village and women are the ones who throw away babies not men,” said Idelta Maria Rodrigues, (03/05), in Dili.  

“It happens in every village, you can help to find out why this issue is happening so we can get some data and have information to improve the attitude growing in society,” said Secretary of state Rodrigues.

Meanwhile Martinha dos Santos, as a woman, said she feels sad when she hears about women throwing their babies away, as this often happens to students at junior and senior high school.

Under the doctrines of the Catholic Church that wields significant influence in East Timor, pre-marital sex is forbidden. Furthermore, it condemns the use of condoms as a means of preventing not only unwanted pregnancies but the minimisation of HIV/AIDS in East Timor.

As such, it is the teachings of the Catholic Church that are contributing to the horrifying phenomenon of the abandonment of babies as well as the spread of HIV, the infection of rate of which has also been increasing in recent years. If young adults were educated about pre-marital sex and the use of condoms, the incidence of unwanted pregnancies and the consequential abandonment of babies would be reduced. If proper public education programs about condom use were implemented, this would also be an effective public health policy to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Source: The Dili Weekly, ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

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