Iraq tries to Shake Stigma of Orphans

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On March 30, a police station in Babil received an anonymous tip about an infant who had been thrown in the garbage. A patrol dispatched to the location found a baby in a cardboard box covered with a cloth. Officer Ahmed Hassan took the infant to a hospital where medical tests revealed the child had been born just a few hours earlier.

This incident certainly isn't the first of its kind. Every now and then, babies are abandoned in different areas of Iraq. In May 2011, a newborn was found in a hospital in Irbil with the word "foundling" written on his body. In 2012, a baby girl was found in a garbage dump in Kirkuk.

Despite the recurrence of such incidents, there are no accurate statistics on the number of abandoned babies in Iraq. “A lot of children die without us knowing anything about their origins,” Fadel Abbas, a police officer in Babil, told Al-Monitor on Aug. 30. Babil is about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

According to Iraqi social culture, the abandoned baby is a disgrace, the product of prohibited sexual relations. When these infants survive, they will be alienated and despised. When they become aware of their situation, they seek to hide the truth to keep from becoming social outcasts.

Alia al-Moussawi, a social worker and sociology teacher, confirmed this. “The mother seeks to get rid of her child as quickly as possible and abandons her baby in a deserted place. If her family finds out about her child, they will definitely kill her, and this has happened many times," she told Al-Monitor.

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