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Uproar in China after 21 dead babies found in river
BEIJING, MAR 31 (Agencies)
Published on 1 Apr. 2010 12:43 AM IST
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As many as 21 fetuses and bodies of babies, some with hospital tabs, were found discarded in a river in east China’s Jining City.
Though exact details are not available, reports suggest most of the dead babies were female who had been dumped because parents wanted to keep the option open for a male child within the one-child system.
Human rights groups and international experts have for long voiced their protest against wide scale female foeticide in China but it is only now that specific instances of how it is one is coming up to the surface. The local government has reacted immediately suspending some of the staff at a hospital from service.
“The hospital medical staff involved have been suspended from their work during the investigation,” Zhong Haitao, a spokesman at the Jining Health Bureau said.
Local residents and firemen found 21 fetuses and dead bodies in the river but the actual number dumped in the water may be much larger.
Eight of the bodies found in the river had hospital tabs. The Jining Municipal Health Bureau has offered a public apology for ineffective supervision.
Chinese newspapers quoted several health experts and university professors to suggest that the bodies belonged to babies that had died for natural reasons and had not been dumped when they were alive.
It has to do with local customs and habits because a lot of people throw dead bodies in the river instead of giving them a proper funeral.
The local media quoted Cao Yongfu, deputy director of the Medical Ethics Institute at Shandong University as saying there is no legal definition for dead fetus in China, It is not appropriate to classify it as medical waste, he said. He called for new regulation to determine the legal status of infant bodies.
Apparently, the absence of clear legal definition helps protect those that may be dumping live bodies as well.
Ma Guanghai, deputy dean at Shandong University’s School of Philosophy and Social Development, said local people would rather dump the body in a corner of the hospital or pay someone to bury it.
The Beijing News reported the bodies may have been dumped by cleaners from local hospitals after abortions and induced labor. Such dead bodies are treated as “medical waste” by hospitals, it said.

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