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Baby Dump Hatches for Unwanted, Abandoned Babies Growing in China

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 17, 2014 5:01 PM EST

Despite being considered illegal in the country, China has nonetheless launched at least 25 baby dump hatches for unwanted and abandoned children nationwide. The scheme effectively encourages irresponsible parenting to a country with a population of 1.360 billion as of end 2013.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A man carries a baby at a busy area of downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The 25 hatches, places where parents can safely abandon their babies, were set up in 10 provincial regions all over the country, according to the China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA). More will be established in at least 18 regions in the coming months.

The presence of the baby dump hatches continued to wreak a divisive stand among the country's people. In an earlier press conference, Dou Yupei, vice minister of civil affairs, said abandoning babies is highly illegal in China.

Others believed people, most especially irresponsible ones, will all the more get encouraged to abandon their unwanted children because of the baby hatches.

But  "laws emphasize prevention, while baby hatches focus on rescue after the laws are broken," Li Bo, head of the CCCWA, said.

The first ever baby dump hatch in China was opened in the city of Shijiazhuang in Hebei province in 2011.

"The shelter embodies the idea of prioritizing the interest of the child," Tang Rongsheng, head of Shenzhen Social Welfare Center, told People's Daily Newspaper in December 2013.

Han Jinhong, head of the Shijiazhuang's social welfare institution, shared babies dying due to abandonment have declined since the launch of the dump hatches. He said that an average of one-third of abandoned babies were able to survive before.

"Although we cannot change the abandonment of babies, we can change the results after they are dumped," he said.

"The life of an infant is fragile. Fifteen to 20 minutes after an infant is abandoned is the prime time to save its life," Tang said.

Most of the abandoned babies had severe medical problems, according to Xinhua. It is believed their parents probably feared they don't have the sufficient funds to pay for expensive medical treatment.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria / )
A man carries a baby at a busy area of downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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