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Baby hatch suspended as too many babies abandoned

2014-03-17 08:47 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

The government-run baby hatch pilot program has been suspended in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province since the local welfare center was overwhelmed by the increasing number of abandoned babies they received, the local civil affairs bureau said on Sunday.

With the number of abandoned children increasing rapidly, staffers from the Guangzhou City Welfare Center (GCWC) found their workload almost doubled, which made it difficult to offer reasonable care to every baby and prevent cross infections and the spread of viruses, according to a statement on the bureau's website.

It also said the number has exceeded the limit the GCWC could handle.

A baby hatch is a place where people can safely and anonymously abandon a baby. The hatches have been controversial as some believe it encourages people to abandon their unwanted children, which is prohibited by law and can result in up to five years in jail.

Xu Jiu, director of GCWC, said in the statement that a total of 262 abandoned children have been received, with 67 percent of them under the age of 1 year old, since the project launched on January 28, 2014. All the abandoned children suffered from disease, with 91 percent of them surviving, according to the statement.

The local welfare institute would continue to accept abandoned babies sent by local police.

A total 25 baby hatches have been established in 10 provincial regions in China, and more will be set up in another 18 regions, according to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption.

Guangzhou's baby hatch was the first in the province and attracted great public attention as a dead baby was left outside, which was identified as a "malicious abandonment" of a baby. The father of the baby was arrested afterward.

Experts point out that the experience of the Guangzhou hatch demonstrates that simply saving abandoned infants is not enough, and a better system is needed to protect the rights of children with illnesses and disabilities.

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