Stillborn babies disowned by parents, buried unnamedIqbal Mahmud
A large number of stillborn babies are disowned by their parents, discarded in hospitals and buried in unidentified graves.
In the past six months, Dhaka Medical College Hospital has sent at least 144 stillborn babies to the voluntary organisation Anjuman Mufidul Islam as their parents have refused to bury their own children.
Anjuman says that in the year between July 2012 to June 2013, it had buried 316 babies in different graveyards.
An official of the voluntary organisation told New Age that more than 90 per cent were ‘stillborn babies’ which came from the DMCH and other hospitals.
‘If they had been born alive, the babies could have been sources of happiness in their families,’ said Mohammad Azim Buksh, trustee and vice-president of Anjuman Mufidul Islam.
‘Born dead, they are not even getting the privilege to be buried with dignity and identification.’
Physicians and officials at the DMCH said that a significant number of parents refused to accept their stillborn babies and just leave them at hospital.
Liton Gazi, a hardware mechanic of Chandpur, lost both of his wife and child. In June, his wife Peyara Begum had given birth to a stillborn baby. Soon after the delivery, the mother died.
Liton carried the body of his wife to Chandpur but refused to accept the body of the baby.
To Liton, the baby carried no interest.
‘I have hundreds of affectionate memories of my wife. That boy was nothing but pieces of flesh to me. Moreover, I had no money left to carry him to the village,’ Liton said.
Later, the baby was buried in the Azimpur graveyard.
Because of financial crisis and social taboos, particularly in the case of pregnancies outside marriage, many parents leave their stillborn children at hospitals, Ferdousi Islam, head of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the DMCH, told New Age.
‘In every case, we request the parents to take the stillborn babies with them. When our request is ignored, we have to hand over the unclaimed baby to Anjuman Mufidul Islam for burial,’ she said.
The social services department has a unit at the DMCH to provide assistance for the poor and needy in obtaining their medical treatment and other support.
The unit does not, however, provide any financial assistance for poor parents so that they can take their stillborn babies for burial.
Social services officer Shibani Mukherjee told New Age that they had not received any application for assisting in the burial of stillborn babies.
She, however, refused to comment further.
Shamsul Alam, ward master at the DMCH, said that they preserved the bodies of unclaimed stillborn babies before Anjuman Mufidul took them for burial.
Anjuman has several teams which visit different hospitals every two or three days collecting unclaimed bodies. The DMCH authorities, usually, provide them with four to six bodies of stillborn babies each week.
‘We bury the bodies in the Azimpur or the Jurain graveyard with due religious rituals,’ Mohammad Azim Buksh, trustee and vice-president of organisation, said.
Kamal Uddin Ahamed, an
associate professor of clinical psychology in Dhaka University, termed the situation ‘denial.’
‘In these cases, parents want to forget about the incident. If they take babies for burial, they would face questions, which might remind the parents of the bitter incident. Even people might blame them saying it is the result of their sins,’ Kamal said.
Md Mustafizur Rahman, director of the DMCH, was unaware of the unclaimed burial of stillborn babies.
On being informed, he said that the hospital authorities would take action to ensure that stillborn babies are not buried unclaimed and to provide financial assistance for poor parents.
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