Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Baby Dumping And The Society In Complicity

A rather serious article here. Can't help it =p

The issue of baby dumping in Malaysia has recently been brought to the forefront by the media, no thanks to the drastic increase in the number of abandoned babies found not monthly or weekly, but daily. As much as the barbaric action needs to be deplored as it deprives the babies their very right to survive and live, it is totally wrong to put the total blame towards the 'dumper'.

The Malaysian society, especially the Malays, is known for its relative religiosity. Islam, for example, has been one of the elements that shape the Malay culture and its societal values, for example. This is made even more apparent by the advent of political Islam, that seems to have taken a pivotal spot in the country's decision-making and its policies.

At the same time, the Malay people have undergone through phases of Islamization. (Many of the) Things that go against the tenets of the religion appear are viewed with contempt or at least discouraged in the public sphere, at least. More and more Malay families try to appear more religious to garner more respect and survive in a incorrigibly-judgmental society. Religion is followed as a daily chore, rather than a spiritual means for self and societal betterment, and of course, pre-marital sex is considered a taboo. While abstinence is conceptually good, the delusional thought of every single unmarried member of the society is born to achieve total premarital abstinence, totally ignores the non-uniformity of one's belief and approach in life. This view, of course, is bound to produce some disastrous repercussions.

Talking about the non-uniformity of one's conformation to his religious belief should bring us back to the issue of the traditional approach many Malays take with regards to Islam. Since the practice of the religion is considered by many as their 'daily chore', which are done for the sake of 'doing it', duality when it comes to their adherence to their religion is inevitably present. This particular 'duality' in adherence makes it natural for them to live double lives. Many may seem to be pious and religious to please the society's expectations on them, but beyond the watchful eyes of the myopic religious enforcement officers, for example, some of them have a totally different approach to Life, in general. This includes their views on things that are considered as blasphemous in Islam, which, of course, include premarital sex. Here, in their private world, the teenagers learn about sex from their friends, but unfortunately, the information they obtain on this is naturally bound to mislead them further. Their miseducation by the dubious materials and sources from their friends and the internet leads to them being totally ignorant (or innocent) when it comes to the importance of practicing safe sex. Abstinence is totally out of the equation here, of course.

To make matters worse, the society continues to deny the aforementioned reality nowadays and parents are still stuck in the 'trap' of continual deception that their kids are better off not knowing anything about sex before they get married. They are in denial that if the kids don't receive a proper sex education formally or from them, the kids will always have their 'informal' source that provides them with some harmfully misleading information on sex. Let's face it, teenagers are inquisitive, and impressionable at the same time. They tend to trust whatever they read or hear, and if the parents and teachers don't preemptively educate them of the real way of averting premarital pregnancy, there's always an alternative source for such information.

While religious education is always championed as the way of nipping the social ills off the buds, it only works to a certain extent. Religious education has been a compulsory part of Malaysia's education system for many years already, and everyone knows that a Muslim is required by their religion to, for example, cover up, socialize the Islamic way and of course, avoid premarital sex, or anything that leads to it at any cost. That's what I learned throughout the 11 years of my formal education in Malaysia. The Ustazs/Ustazahs would give counseling to students who didn't seem to show a strong Islamic credence through the dresses they wore or the degree of their religious adherence. It all led to a lot of my female friends wearing tudungs (headscarves) at school and abandoning them altogether once they left the school compound. Of course, they are aware of their religious obligation to cover up, but once they're in control of their own destiny, they're in control of what they wear too, of course.

So, the Malaysian youngsters already know about their religion's view towards premarital sex, and they, of course, have the capacity to either do it or avoid it behind the closed doors and away from the preying eyes of the society. This shows that one's personal religious view is not something that the schools, government, or religious bodies can control.

Therefore, the society needs to stop being delusional and be ready to admit the failure of the present way of educating the youngsters. If they want to have sex, they will have it anyway. You can raid the parks, and they'll do it in the bush. You can raid the bush, and they'll do it in their rooms. You can raid their rooms, and they'll do it in the palm oil estates and whatnot. The possibility for these youngsters to indulge in premarital sex is endless, and conducting endless raids and promoting overzealous vigilance will always be in vain. Futile.

That's why a proper sex education is imperative. Make sure the youngsters know that sex comes with a risk. Tell them that making love without protection is similar to making babies.
The youngsters involved already know that it increases the chance of them being banished into hell for eternity, for this is a tale they've been hearing a million times to no effect to their actions. Perhaps the government and religious teachers can work on revamping the limp and seemingly lifeless religious and moral education in our schools.

The society also needs to stop holding uncompounded prejudice toward the out-of-wedlock mothers. Most of the baby dumping cases are caused by the mother's panic and anxiety, and her irresponsible sexual partner who refuses to chip in the responsibility of raising the baby. Therefore, the society should, instead of aggravating the grim fate of the women involved, be more supportive. The family members need to form a strong, coherent support system to help the rather-unfortunate new mother raise her baby. The current double standard of blaming the mother-uber-alles should stop.

People make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Instead of lamenting others for the mistakes they've done, we should reflect and be humbled by the mistakes that we, knowingly or unknowingly, have committed at various points in our Life.

Babies and Life, in general are the miracles of our Universe. Babies come with full responsibility. Feed them, treat them with love and care, raise them the good way, and these unwanted babies may turn out into the most 'wanted' leader of our future. 'Wanted' in a good, prized way, of course.

Faizal Hamssin