Srinagar: Salma (name changed), a 14-year-old girl recently delivered a baby at Lal Ded (LD) hospital Srinagar.
The 14-year-old girl was raped and impregnated by one of her relatives who is married and has kids. As per her parents, the girl used to visit her relatives for domestic help as his wife was expecting and had gone home for delivery.
Parents of the minor were unaware about their daughter’s pregnancy and soon after their daughter complained about the pain and uneasiness. They brought her to the hospital where doctors confirmed her pregnancy after a proper medical examination.
This is not the only case, there are six other minor girls who have recently delivered babies at the hospital. Police have also registered FIRs in some cases.
According to the official data accessed by Greater Kashmir, at least 11 newborn babies have been abandoned at the Child Welfare Centre at Nowgam, of which, seven cases are from LD hospital.
Ruheela Yaseen, a social worker at the child care help desk at Lal Ded hospital told Greater Kashmir that all the abandoned babies are being taken care of by "our team which is headed by Shaffaq Azim Mattu."
She said that some new-borns are delivered by minors and other babies, mostly female newborns are being abandoned by their parents due to their gender.
Mubarik Ahmad, another social worker at the child care help desk told Greater Kashmir that these cases of minors who had delivered babies come from different districts of the valley.
"Mostly, recent cases are from Kupwara, Bandipora, Tral and Kulgam, Shopian. Few cases were from Srinagar also. We get such cases from other districts as well," he said.
He said that in some cases when babies die, they have to buy land where they can bury them. "We cannot hand over dead babies to the minors or to their parents because they throw them into the dustbins where dogs eat them or into the water bodies. It was Eid, a minor gave birth to dead twins and we had to buy land and bury them. It needs a lot of effort. It is very challenging emotionally and physically," he said.
The officials said that some childless couples come forward and adopt these new-borns. " If anyone wants to opt for adoption. Then the couple has to go through a proper legal procedure for it. Then only they can adopt these new-borns," officials said.
A senior doctor at the hospital told Greater Kashmir that gender discrimination, moral degradation are the reasons for the baby abandonment menace.
Shaffaq Azim Mattu, Superintendent, Phulwari - Cradle Baby Reception Centre, Srinagar, Mission Vatsalya (Child Protection Services), Kashmir told Greater Kashmir that "we have two centres where we take care of these newborns , one is at Nowgam , Srinagar which has registered 11 abandoned babies and another centre is at Bandipora which has registered five abandoned babies."
Shaffaq is also Superintendent of Parisa - Shelter Home for Girls, Srinagar, Mission Vatsalya (Child Protection Services). " We have Aayas for these babies and they are properly taking care of these new-borns like feeding, cleaning, washing etc," she said.
She said that her department receives the majority of the cases from LD hospital and Children hospital. " 90 percent of the cases are minor. Mostly juvenile mothers deliver babies. Our department has been named as Mission Watsalaya," she said.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2013 gave the Child Welfare Commission (CWC) the authority to award custody of an abandoned child who was in the care of a CJM. Every district in the state has one of these committees in operation. The social workers of the CWCs adopt any abandoned children after they receive the necessary medical care from the hospitals.