TAPLEJUNG, Oct 18: On October 8, Junu Tembe, 22, a resident of Mauwakhola Rural Municipality, Taplejung killed her newborn baby girl and buried her in the jungle. Investigations are still in the preliminary stages but officials suspect that the baby might have been born out of an extramarital affair.
Tembe’s case, police said, is the latest in around half-a-dozen cases of infanticide reported in the district in recent years. They claim that “illicit relations thriving under the shadow of foreign employment, and limited knowledge of contraceptives are pushing many mothers to commit such heinous crimes due to the fear of exclusion from family and society”. Many are forced to spend their life in guilt and depression, they added.
On Feb 4, 2018, four-year-old Manika Chemjong was severely thrashed by her mother merely because the child got into a tantrum. Manika died in the process of treatment and her mother is serving a jail sentence. Similarly, Puja, a 32-year-old resident of Tamuchok, Phungling Municipality threw her daughter on a stone floor because she was fed up with the child. In August 2018, Kamala BK of ward 2 of Yangwarak Rural Municipality of Pathibhara, killed her twin daughters Ganga and Jamuna by throwing them into the septic tank at her home. BK ran away from home after the incident but she was arrested and tried for homicide.
Sandhya Sherpa, a 23-year-old woman, ran away after she killed her own child on Sept 9, 2017. A similar incident happened in Changey of Trivendi Rural Municipality.
Sarita Lingden, a human rights activist, said such incidents are increasing and should be taken seriously to identify their causes in order to control the increase of crime. Bishnu Bahadur Khadka, information officer and Police Inspector of Taplejung District Police Office, shared his observation on the case studies where mothers had murdered their own children. He said that such crimes by women have taken place as they tried to hide their extramarital affairs and pre-marital relationships in most cases.
In all cases mentioned above, there was a role of an affair with another man except in the case of Puja where the child was fatally injured after being slammed into the hard floor, added Khadka. Killing a child is a crime, whether the child is born or unborn. Right to life is a basic human right that should be guaranteed to everyone.
Shanta Angwuhang, a social justice activist, said that mothers might have been pushed to resort to such crimes to cover up their extramarital affairs.