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City of Banjul
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Letters: Society is the “thief”, not the woman who took the baby away

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Dear editor,

Few days ago, I read the story of a woman accused of “stealing” a baby in the West Coast Region. I guess she was apprehended by the Police and the baby reunited with his mother and twin baby brother.

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I don’t know the actual motive behind this action of the woman. But I refuse to label her a “baby snatcher” or even a “thief”. What I see is a desperate action by a desperate woman who must probably wanted to have a baby she can call her own, one she could cuddle, sing lullabies to, bond with, exhibit to the public as hers, love to the maximum, see growing up into a handsome, ambitious and eventually successful young man and one who would be calling her “mother”…And so if there is a “thief”, and there is actually one, that would be for me our “society”.

Imagine for a moment that you are this woman who is happily married. Imagine however that after 5 years of marriage you are unable to bear a child for your husband. You have consulted all the best gynaecologists in the country and some herbalists too. They found no fault with you but you can’t still bear a child… Imagine you are living in the extended family of your husband. Your mother-in-law and/or sisters-in-law taunt you every day for your inability to bear a child for your husband. They compare or liken you to a “male” and tell you that “their son or brother married a male paw-paw tree” (whatever that means). And whenever visitors come too they are enquiring when you will get pregnant. Your husband is always threatening to marry another wife because you cannot get him a heir apparent.

Imagine for a moment the life of hell such a woman could be living under, forced on her by a society that believes that fecundity is the be all and end all of marriage, and that a woman’s duty is procreation and no more. And so when a marriage is childless, it is without doubt the fault of the woman. She takes the taunting, blames, derisions and aspersions. She is forced to bear the heartache and mental torture. She has to save her marriage and which could mean feigning pregnancy or forced to take away someone’s baby. To please society, to save her marriage, to escape the taunting.

So I look inward, how my attitude has forced a woman to take a desperate action to remedy a situation which is not of her making. A little understanding on my part, just a little, could have helped this woman…A little empathy, a little emphasis on love as the pillar of marriage and not necessarily the ability to bear children, could make a lot of difference to this woman.

I don’t know if the Police would charge her. I don’t know what her plea would be when she is arraigned. But I am just imagining the many thoughts that could be racing in her head, including thought of suicide. The further taunting she would be subject to, the shame they would say she has brought to the family, the finger pointing from the society whose actions have forced her to do such a desperate action. Whatever, I see a woman who deserves my understanding and empathy, and not a scintilla of criticism for her action. I am to blame, not her.

Njundu Drammeh


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