Adoption rights for Bahrain expats urged
Manama, August 2, 2009
Bahrain should consider allowing expatriates to adopt abandoned children to ease the burden on the country's orphanages, according to rights activists.
They say many youngsters are being prevented from going to good homes as a result of the existing law, which only allows Bahrainis to adopt.
The call came less than a week after a one-year-old boy was found abandoned in a mosque car park in East Riffa.
A passer-by came across the child - whose nationality has still to be identified - wrapped in a pink blanket at around 3pm last Monday.
National Radiator Industries job supervisor Masood Ahmed was parking his car at the Abdulla bin Darwish Fakhro Mosque, near LuLu Hypermarket, when he spotted the baby and called police.
An ambulance took the child to Salmaniya Medical Complex's Accident and Emergency Department before he was transferred to a general ward.
Migrant Workers Protection Society action committee head Marietta Dias said there could be many reasons such as family and cultural issues for a mother to dump a child.
'This is not the first case that happened in Bahrain and there could be several reasons for a mother to leave her child,' she said.
'There is no solution to this problem.
'The only thing I can say is that the government must reconsider the adoption law as there are several expatriates who are willing to adopt such children, but the law doesn't allow them to do so.
'When there are people who are willing to adopt, why don't they let them do it?
'Instead of keeping the babies in the orphanages, they could provide them with shelter and most importantly a good home.
'Of course, they can do the research and follow the same procedure as they do before they give the baby to a Bahraini family.'
Dias said the authorities should also raise more awareness about how to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
'There are many expatriate housemaids who get pregnant and after delivering the baby dump it somewhere,' she said.
'There should be more awareness programmes to get the message across.'
Amnesty International Bahrain campaign head Fawzia Rabea said she failed to understand how someone could carry out such a 'heinous act' of abandoning a child.
She also rejected suggestions that a centre should be set up to help women who wanted to give birth in secret, before giving their child up for adoption.
'I totally disagree with the idea of opening a centre to shelter such women who are actually offenders,' Rabea told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News.
'I don't think there is a need to open a centre for pregnant women, whether Bahraini or non-Bahraini.
'If they want to open a centre it would be of no use anyway, as many women prefer to keep their pregnancy secret.'
Rabea urged the Social Development Ministry and Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry to conduct awareness programmes on how to prevent children being abandoned.
'Everybody makes mistakes, but there should be a limit to everything,' she said.
'Before they think of having a baby, both men and women, whatever their religion, should agree to have good relations and handle the situation and not just dump the baby.
'I believe the ministries should carry out more awareness programmes and non-government organisations (NGOs) should also work to spread the message.
'This is something haram (forbidden) in Islam and a major offence, and I think if the couple were legally married or had a mutual understanding, they would have never taken this step.'
Bahrain Women's Union vice-president Fatima Rabea said she had no problem with expatriates being given rights to adopt children as long as they have lived here for many years.
She also said the psychological dam