Government has been challenged to establish a rescue centre for children who are abandoned by their parents and end up dying in the bush or picked up by strangers.
Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network programmes director, Dorothy Hove said government should mobilise resources and create a “baby bin” so that those who cannot afford to take care of their kids due to various circumstances are able to leave their children in the care of the State.
Hove said this at an Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) Conversations event titled: Baby dumping — a bleeding wound on our conscience.
“We need to have a starting point to say how are we going to deal with baby dumping or abandoning? We need social safety nets for the vulnerable.
We need systems that can be compatible to say ‘given these circumstances I can go and leave the child,” Hove said.
The programme sought to unpack the challenges faced by children living in the streets as well as how to tackle the issue of baby dumping.
Currently, children dumped on the streets are taken to the Department of Social Welfare before being given to children’s homes for foster care.
Most children’s homes are run by charitable organisations and churches while some have been left to grow up in the streets.
Another panellist, Perold Ncube who is a social worker, said while the baby bin concept could assist in curbing baby dumping cases, the current economic crisis made it impossible for the government to create such facilities where vulnerable children are left without questions.
“Unlike in South Africa where they have resources, here we don’t have that luxury.
Let us deal with the main cause of baby dumping through legislation and other means,” Ncube said.
“Also we have to deal with cultural issues. Our families do not welcome the idea of adoption so it becomes difficult to deal with if we don’t sort out the real cause.”
Research has shown that most women who dump babies would have either been impregnated by irresponsible men or have been raped.
One of the children who grew up in the street, Shakinar Marimo said girls who live in the streets are mostly abused by older boys who impregnate them but refuse responsibility.
“Some big boys don’t want to see these girls using contraceptives but at the same time they don’t want to be responsible,” Marimo said.