Basil Hussein, a volunteer at Al Qassimi hospital, tends to Omar.
Basil Hussein, a volunteer at Al Qassimi hospital, tends to Omar.

Parents of dumped Sharjah babies arrested

SHARJAH // The mothers of two babies abandoned in a mosque earlier this year in Sharjah have been arrested. A Somali imam on his way to morning prayers discovered the infants, born to different mothers, in March. Three of their parents, including both mothers, were apprehended in Dubai in a joint police effort and handed over to Sharjah police, said Col Abdullah al Dukhan, the Sharjah police deputy director general. The other father has reportedly absconded.

"It was really unusual for the two babies to be found abandoned at the same time in the same place," he said. "The babies were unrelated but all along we thought there was some kind of relationship or conspiracy among parents." The Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs helped identify the mother of the abandoned five-month-old boy as the Filipina maid PP. She allegedly fled her sponsor's home when pregnant and the sponsors reported the incident to authorities. She confessed to leaving her baby in the mosque and said she had been following media reports to keep up with the boy's welfare, police said.

After being apprehended PP was questioned about the second baby boy, who was six weeks old when abandoned. She said he belonged to AAA, another maid with whom she was sharing accommodations and who was then arrested. Police said both women said their children were fathered by Bangladeshi workers, and said they had no means to look after their babies and were afraid of prosecution after having engaged in illegal sex.

AAA said her baby's father was a Bangladeshi national working as a labourer, according to police. The man was later apprehended. PP told police her infant's father was a Bangladeshi national who had fled the country after learning she was pregnant. "Immorality is at its peak now and all these are the consequences of adultery," said Col al Dukhan. Police continued to follow up on their well-being as they searched for the parents. Like most children found in the emirate, the two infants were transferred immediately to hospital, their first stop in a process that could eventually see them placed with foster families. The infants have now been shifted from the Al Qassimi Hospital to a social care centre, where they are said to be doing well.

The three parents have been referred to public prosecutors, Col al Dukhan said. The babies, named Khaled and Omar by their carers, may eventually be reunited with their parents if all the proper procedures are followed. The courts will decide whether the parents should be punished for illegal sex and whether they should get their children back, should they want them. If they do not want them, they will have to say so in court and the trial judge will decide their fate.

There have been several instances of child abandonment in the northern emirates in recent years. Two babies were discovered in Ajman and Ras al Khaimah last February. Ajman police later arrested the unmarried parents of a three-month-old girl, who were charged with adultery and endangering the baby's life. Another two babies were found abandoned outside Sharjah mosques last year. Sharjah officials say they have developed a system to cope with the dozen or so cases they deal with every year. * With additional reporting by Zoi Constantine

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