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News  


 

Babies on sale at Rawatawatte orphanage

By Wijitha Nakkawita and Viranjan Herath
Baby farms in the guise of orphanages? There could possibly be no greater human rights violation than usurping the rights of infants who have no voice in the matter by selling them like trade items.
When CPA got a telephone call last Wednesday (23) on its emergency number 1929 informing that a baby farm in the guise of an orphanage was being run at Rawatawatte, the Chairperson of the CPA decided to accompany her officers to raid the place immediately. When they reached their destination, the officers found a posh building - kept spic and span.
Once inside the premises, they found 65 babies and children up to five year-old and 12 young pregnant women, some of them still not reached adulthood. Some babies were looked like not more than two weeks or one month old. A foreign couple was also present. The home was registered with CPA to house and look after 40 children or babies and it had to maintain files for each of them. There were only 30 files and no documents were available for other 35 babies.
The matron of the home, a Christian nun, was arrested by the CPA officers and produced before the Moratuwa magistrate who ordered the suspect to be remanded. Twelve employees of the establishment were questioned and their statements were recorded.
The informants had told the CPA that young women with extra-marital relationships were brought to the home who wished to give away their children. They had said these women had given their babies to the orphanage. CID on a directive of Inspector General of Police investigates the allegation that those running the place have sold babies to locals and foreigners.
Some highlights of this orphanage or home for children were that under the law it could not house pregnant young women as inmates. The reasons for the presence of the foreign couple when the CPA officers raided it were not explained. The chairperson had said it was not clear whether they had come to “purchase” a baby. But there are many such confusing issues in the case. How did the management of the home fund such a large establishment in a posh building and why were the underage pregnant mothers living in the house?
Those who had tipped off the CPA maybe the neighbours who suspected something wrong was happening. CID investigations are continuing though the CPA did make a clear statement to the media about the details of the raid. However, one suspect has been arrested and remanded.
The establishment has been registered as a children’s home under the Western Provincial Council. The employees of the home had told the CPA that an international organisation was helping them to look after babies born to underage mothers out of wedlock.
Some unanswered questions could be made clear only after the investigations are completed.