Socially conservative family values force many unwed mothers in Malaysia to give up their babies. Due to the stigma surrounding the issue, many young Malaysians don’t have proper sex education or access to resources. Thankfully, there are charities and NGOs who are dedicated to dealing with these issues.
Channel News Asia explored the issue by interviewing mothers who chose to give up their babies. They interviewed a 30-year-old woman who was in her last trimester of pregnancy. She decided to go to a centre where she can give up her baby after she gives birth. Despite the fact that she’s a successful entrepreneur, she will be relentlessly shamed for her pregnancy out of wedlock. She’s not ready to tell her family about her baby, so she told them she’s on a business trip for a few months.
She told Channel News Asia that she considers herself lucky because she was able to get the support of an orphanage during her pregnancy. OrphanCare and other NGOs like them give women another chance at life without having to abandon their babies on the street. They even offer “Baby Hatches,” which are safe hatches where women can drop off their babies anonymously.
These NGOs would like the culture of shaming women to change, but until then, they want to provide solutions for the issues at hand. They give women the option to give their baby to someone else who can take better care of them. However, the numbers OrphanCare provided show that nearly half of the women under their care chose to take home their baby after proper counselling and support from loved ones. It goes to show just how important a good support system is for a woman going through a tough time.
The one thing that may change people’s perspectives is more education. Local authorities report that only 33.7% of adolescents know that a girl can become pregnant during her first time having sex, and only 33.3% know that condoms can prevent STIs. With a more educated youth, both unwanted pregnancies and development of social stigma against women can be prevented.