Baby vendors caught red-handedView(s):
Three Avissawela arrests following attempt to sell a baby for Rs. 100,000. Hansani Bandara reports
Three persons have been arrested on a charge of attempting to “sell” an infant born last week at the Avissawela Hospital. The arrested persons are a minor female hospital employee, her husband, and a third party. Under court orders, the mother and infant are being detained at the Ratnapura Hospital, where they will remain till February 22.
The story revealed in court was that a married but childless couple who were registered with the National Child Protection Authority received a call from the Avissawela Hospital saying “a baby was available for adoption”, for a sum of Rs. 100,000. Sensing something amiss, the couple consulted an Avissawella probation officer, who referred the matter to Colombo District Child Protection Officer, Indika Jayawardena.
Together with the Children and Women’s Division of the Awissawella Police, Mr. Jayawardena drew up a plan to trap the parties arranging the illegal transaction. Mr. Jayawardena and a Police officer accompanied the couple to the hospital employee’s house, where the infant was being kept. The Avissawela Hospital employee and her husband, described as “Senevi”, were arrested.
The mother and infant, accompanied by a relative, had left the hospital before the discharge date. They left the hospital in a three-wheeler driven by “Senevi”, husband of the hospital employee. The hospital employee had given the mother and her relative Rs. 35,000.
It is understood that Senevi and his wife had befriended the mother, an unmarried 22-year-old working at the Seethawaka Industrial Zone, who had consented to becoming pregnant for money.
“This is a very unfortunate incident,” Avissawela Hospital director Dr. Sumedha Panagoda told the newspaper. “We are understaffed but we are doing our best to give the public a good service. Incidents like this only bring disrepute to hospitals.”
Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva, head of the Department of Health, Western Province, told the newspaper, “The health authorities will not tolerate any kind of criminal behaviour from medical or hospital staff. We have given orders to hospital staff to be extra vigilant.”
Female employees working in the Seethawaka Industrial Zone are vulnerable to exploitation, says the Avissawela Mayor, R. M. S. Premalal Pinthu. “These women come from rural areas and they have no proper or safe accommodation, although the land and the industrial zone resources are the responsibility of the Sri Lanka Board of Investment.”
Mayor Pinthu said the Urban Council had no authority over the Seethawaka Industrial Zone and was therefore not in a position to look into matters relating to the welfare of the zone’s employees.
Unfit or penniless mothers should speak to doctor in charge
Mothers who wish to give away their new-born for adoption, or who fear they are unable to care for and support their child, should speak to the doctor in charge of the maternity ward at the hospital where they gave birth.“In cases where the mother is unable to look after the baby, the mother should inform the hospital officials,” says Colombo District Child Protection Officer, Indika Jayawardena.
In such cases, the doctor overseeing the mother and infant will inform the hospital director, who will in turn, under instructions spelt out in Circular 13 3A issued by the Health Services Director General, inform the area probation officer. The infant will be handed over to a state orphanage, where it will be looked after or given for adoption.
Those wishing to adopt a child should register at the National Child Protection Authority. They will be informed when a child is available for adoption.
A child may also be adopted with the written consent of its biological parents. Persons who wish to adopt the child should make a legal application to the probation officials. They will have to await court permission to take over the guardianship of the child.
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