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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


ROSENBERG, Whitney. Mechanisms adopted in curbing unsafe infant abandonment: A comparison between Namibia and South Africa. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2021, vol.21, n.2, pp.938-953. ISSN 1996-2096.

This article looks at the development of 'baby safe haven' laws in Namibia as a response to unsafe infant abandonment and examines the lack of similar laws in South Africa to curb this practice. The central question addressed in the article is whether an obligation rests with the South African legislature to prevent unsafe infant abandonment by providing a safe alternative. This question is expounded upon by looking at the approach or the mechanisms adopted in countries around the world with a specific focus on South Africa's neighbouring country, Namibia. The impact of the non-legalisation of any of these mechanisms in South Africa is dealt with through analysing the various human rights that are infringed in terms of the South African Constitution. The previous laws governing the abandonment of infants in Namibia are compared with the more recent introduction of 'baby safe haven' laws, which is indicative of how far Namibia has come in moving from emulating South African laws in the realm of children to taking the lead in introducing a safe alternative to unsafe abandonment. Lastly, the current South African law, which is reactive in its approach to infant abandonment, is dealt with. The conclusion is reached that in view of what Namibia has done an obligation indeed rests on the South African legislature urgently to implement similar laws to save the lives and protect the various other rights of unsafely abandoned infants. It is proposed that 'baby savers' and 'baby safe haven laws' urgently should be introduced in South Africa to prevent further deaths through the unsafe abandonment of infants in places such as toilets, pit latrines and open fields.

Keywords : unsafe infant abandonment; infant death; baby savers; baby safe havens; South Africa; Namibia; human rights.

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