March 22: The body of a newborn male baby is recovered from the riverbank of Kynshi at Krohbah in West Khasi Hills.
April 27: Sipelin Lyngkhoi, 21, abandons her newborn baby boy near Wahumkhrah stream, at Lawmali, Shillong. The baby is later shifted to Ganesh Das Hospital.
April 30: A newborn male baby is found abandoned behind the compound of Nongmynsong Presbyterian School, Shillong.
Dec. 20: Aidalin Nongphud, 17, a Class XI student of Patharkhnang village in West Khasi Hills, is arrested for burying her newborn boy alive in her garden.
Shillong, Jan. 3: Matrilineal Meghalaya is staring at bone-chilling trend of male infanticide, a disturbing reversal of the other malaise, female infanticide, that afflicts the rest of the nation.
Police officials say the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg, since they are many more which go unreported.
While few are willing to dwell on the social and economic causes that lead to such killings, the Catholic Church hopes lessons to mothers and women on the dignity of life could bring about a change of heart.
“The cases expose a decline in moral values and there is a need to create awareness on the ill effects of mothers abandoning babies,” Archbishop Dominic Jala said.
“We, as a church hold youth ministry to make the youths realise the need for responsible parentage,” the Archbishop said.
The chairman of Mait Shaphrang Movement, Michael Syiem, on the other hand, said his NGO had been advocating compulsory registration of marriages to address the trend.
In cases where there is no official bond of marriage, mothers abandon babies once the husbands have deserted them, he said.
So pressing is the matter that the Meghalaya State Commission for Women has decided to take it up in the next panel meeting.
“We are concerned over the matter and there is need to study the issue so that effective awareness campaigns can be initiated,” said chairperson of the commission, Roshan Warjri.
The Civil Society Women’s Organisation, however, said it may be a mere coincidence that the cases reported last year involved male babies.
Whether it is male or female babies, the cause of abandonment may lie in early marriages of under-age girls, said Agnes Kharshiing, president of the organisation.
“In some cases, the abandonment of babies may be because of the shame following pregnancy out of wedlock, with the young girls wanting to hide the truth from the parents or relatives,” she said.
Kharshiing also indicated that there may be a few cases of rape victims abandoning their babies for fear of stigma.
There is also need of collaboration of villages, hospitals, health department, NGOs and faith-based institutions to collectively address the issue, she said.