From Mumbai to Delhi to Goa, in recent months there have been many stories of babies – especially girls – left in the rubbish at the mercy of animals. Less than 2% of the estimated 3 million orphaned and abandoned children find a place in the structures. Pascoal Carvalho (Pontifical Academy for Life): “These stories and not per capita income is what measures the degree of development of a society.”
Mumbai () – On the day that the Church remembers the holy innocent martyrs, in India our thoughts turn to a long chain of stories of abandoned newborns who in recent months have shown that the protection of each life that is still being born is a distant goal in the country, and not only in the poorest rural areas but also in the big cities.
A few weeks ago Mumbai police found a four-day-old baby girl abandoned on a sidewalk near Borivali West. Another abandoned girl had been found in September in the same Mumbai suburb. Around the same time, in Goa, an abandoned girl was found near the Margao sewage treatment plant and a few weeks later, in Delhi, it was the turn of another newborn girl who was discovered in a garbage container with the mark of the bite of a an animal on the leg.
Also in September, in the Mandya district of Karnataka, a newborn baby was found abandoned in a 30-meter-deep well. The inhabitants of the village had heard the crying and saw it next to a pile of plastic garbage. Simultaneously in Uttar Pradesh police discovered a two-day-old baby thrown into the bushes, severely injured by ant bites.
These are stories that draw the attention of the press about a tragedy that the figures also tell: in India, less than 2% of the approximately 3 million orphaned and abandoned children find a place in child care institutions, that is to say, in centers of reception. And fewer than 2,000 manage to enter the country’s legal adoption system. It should also be taken into account that these data are approximate by default. In fact, many of the abandoned children are never found, some are simply picked up and taken away without reporting the facts; others are preyed on by wild animals.
“This cry of the poor newborns is a tragedy that requires a concrete change – comments Dr. Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life -. The degree of development of a society is not measured by per capita income, but by the existence of support systems for those who struggle with material and emotional needs. Every person should feel wanted and be able to contribute to the common good.”
“We have always thought that atrocities against newborns occurred only in rural cities – continues Carvalho – and we attributed them to the lack or impossibility of accessing education. But when these cases occur in highly developed cities, we have to stop and understand that we are failing as individuals and as a society. It is evident that progress makes us be more individualistic and lose sensitivity towards those around us”.
“We don’t have enough institutions to help young parents raise their children. Organizations like the Missionaries of Charity cannot be present everywhere. Each one of us – she concludes – has the responsibility to make a contribution to future generations. The synodal journey calls all of us to open ourselves to compassion, solidarity and reciprocal help in a people that walks together, bringing the hope of a new future to the Church and to society”.