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No way to treat this mother

It is ironic that on the same day a study done in the UK on the effects of post-partum depression on women who have recently given birth was published and appeared on the BBC, in Trinidad & Tobago, a young mother who had recently given birth was charged for child abandonment.

Post partum depression is reportedly caused by hormonal changes in the body from the pregnancy levels to post-pregnancy levels and, can cause such severe depressive symptoms to the point of psychosis, that new mothers have tried to kill their babies or other close relatives. When they do succeed in actually killing the baby, the crime is not known as murder but as infanticide, as it has been recognised for centuries that the act is committed when the mother's mind is disturbed.

That is, it is so recognised in most legal jurisdictions in the Commonwealth.

In Trinidad, a mother, clearly disturbed, who has given birth alone and without help, obviously confused, depressed and frantic as she cannot even deal with the two children she already has, does not kill her newborn, but somehow finds the strength within two hours, even while aching and bleeding, to walk to a place where she knows the baby will be cared for, and leaves it there, aware, even in her confused state, that its cries will attract help.

This is not "abandonment" . It is giving a child into the only safe care a desperate, frantic and hopeless woman can think of. At least the baby will be safe, while the forlorn mother goes back to the impoverished and despairing life that brought her to this point.

In Europe, many countries have "baby gates", usually at churches, orphanages or convents, where unwanted babies can be left in a small cradle set into the institutions' doors or walls. The person leaving the child then rings a buzzer and leaves, and a caretaker opens the cradle from the other side and takes the child to safety. This is a humane and understanding answer to the universal problem of a poor mother's inability to care for a baby, and ensures the infant's survival. The babies are often referred to as "foundlings", and will be placed for adoption or cared for in an orphanage.

It is notable that at a time when the world has been alerted by the brutal murder of a young medical student in India, to the way in which women are mistreated by the societies they live in, T&T is not exempt, shown by the way the police system in T&T always, in these cases, allows for only the mother to be charged with child abandonment. Once again, the father gets off scot free, as though this woman, like so many others in this country is a virgin, reproducing by pathogenesis. Where is "equality before the law"?

Diana Mahabir-Wyatt

via e-mail

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