Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

25th January 2013 Windhoek, Namibia

British support to Namibian campaign to tackle ‘baby-dumping’

BoyA front page story of a tragic case of “baby-dumping” – the abandonment of newborn babies often in isolated locations – marked a sad start to the new year in Namibia.

Whilst reporting of such heart-breaking cases appears to be on the increase in local papers, no one can provide precise figures as neither infanticide or baby-dumping are categorised as separate crimes here and are usually recorded as charges of concealment of birth, abandonment, culpable homicide or murder.

Despite that, local police confirm that they handle around 19 cases of concealment of birth alone each year, often involving very young mothers. Activists warn that many more cases are likely to have gone unreported.

Namibia’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare highlighted the problem in its Plan of Action on Gender-based Violence, launched in September 2012, and included the problem in a zero-tolerance media campaign.

girlIn the meantime, local NGO, the Legal Assistance Centre, is one of a number of civil society organisations working alongside the Ministry to address the matter.

The country’s forthcoming Child Care and Protection Bill (currently with the legal drafters prior to its review in the Namibian Parliament) is also set to provide desperate young mothers with practical options for finding a safe place for their unwanted infants, including legally permitting them to be left in certain designated places, such as a hospital or police station.

In 2008, the Centre published a research report on the topic and followed this up with a comic entitled What to do if you are pregnant and do not want the baby, which it distributed nationwide. It was also one of the partners who undertook an extensive survey to determine why the Namibian public thought baby-dumping occurred and to encourage debate on what could be done about the problem.

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The most common reasons given were the baby’s father denying paternity, the mother being a student, and the mother not knowing about options such as foster care, adoption and institutional care. The most common proposed solution was the need to provide more information to the public on such options.

In response to this, the British High Commission in Windhoek is pleased to be able to support a new social media initiative being launched by the Legal Assistance Centre which makes information about alternative options available to parents via a series of striking campaign posters.

The LAC is asking members of the public to show their support for the prevention of baby-dumping campaign by providing photographs of their babies to feature on the posters and then circulating the posters to friends and family.

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Through this person-to-person communication mechanism, the LAC hopes to reach a wider range of people than usual. The LAC is also engaging with print, radio and television media to ensure extensive coverage of the issue and will be printing some of the posters for nationwide distribution.

This is a really exciting and innovative campaign – and I would be interested to hear your feedback on the initial posters as featured in this blog and to get your wider ideas on other ways to tackle this heartbreaking issue.

4 comments on “British support to Namibian campaign to tackle ‘baby-dumping’

  1. There should be a law saying that all pregnant females must register their pregnancy and an Id card should be given to each to be taken around for checking by the police at anytime. Anybody caught without Id card should be arrested and chargered for the offence. This must have a database with blood test record for identification of any dump baby.

  2. Hi

    I would just like to express my gratitude towards you.
    I am a 24 year old female and would really like to volunteer and help out, wherever my assistance is required. I am employed full time but can help out after hours and during weekends.

    Please let me know should you need any assistance running your campaigns etc..

    Thank you
    Petrina Keramen

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About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
August.
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Children:
Two daughters and one son

 
June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
 
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

2001
Joined FCO

2000-2001
Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

1995-2000
Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

1994-1995
Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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