The other day, my cousin related to me a news story of young Mubashra Uddin, a 19 year old, Pakistani Muslim girl from Illinois. She became pregnant and hid it from her parents under the guise of loose clothing for 9 months until she gave birth to a full term, nearly 8lb baby girl. She allegedly delivered the infant in her own bedroom, and when she heard her mom coming down the hallway, opened the window and dropped the baby eight stories down onto the grass outside. A man later found the newborn bloody and injured. Paramedics took the baby girl to Weiss Memorial Hospital where she passed away an hour later. Mubashra Uddin is now in custody and her bond hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday.
That’s all from the news. And it’s easy to react to it. As I scanned the same story over multiple news sources online, I was actually disgusted by the lack of empathy I was seeing. How easy it is to judge from a place of safety, a place that isn’t like the one this girl is in. We don’t even know the whole story, yet people say vicious things condemning not only the act, but her with it. And many of these comments are coming from mothers. “How can a mother kill her own baby?” That’s exactly it. You are correct. Because that can’t happen very simply. I only read one non-hateful comment in all this and which plainly stated: “There is more to this story.”
Oftentimes young people get into different situations because of various factors. Perhaps her home life isn’t peachy. In fact, maybe it’s horrible. We don’t know that. Perhaps there is some other reason. But if she really hid this and threw her baby out the window out of fear of her parents’ disapproval, then there’s a much larger problem here. Why does she have that fear? Why doesn’t she feel safe telling her parents what happened? What does she think they will do to her? What kind of fear motivates such drastic action. It isn’t easy covering up you’re pregnant by the way, let alone giving birth on your own, with no nurses, support, equipment, anesthesia, and in the looming presence of fear.
Other comments shove the Safe Haven law at her. The Safe Haven law practiced by 49 of 50 states including Illinois, states that you can drop off a newborn within a month of its birth at any police station, hospital, etc with no questions asked. But did she know about this? I didn’t know about this law until yesterday after I heard this story. How can we be so sure she did?
Yes, for Muslim, Pakistani parents, becoming pregnant before marriage is unthinkable, but our kids are not being educated or provided with a realm of security, even while living with us. These are real problems in the world we live in today. We’ve migrated from our original societies into a different world than we grew up in, and somehow we expect our children to perfectly follow and abide by the norms of a society they don’t even live in. And when something happens that conflicts with our own principles, we become angry and oppressive to that same youth. In a religion that teaches us first and foremost how overwhelmingly Kind and Loving and Forgiving God is, we forget that it isn’t anger that holds solutions—it’s love.
It may not be common practice in Pakistani households to be open about a lot of topics—including sex and pregnancy—but it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep things that way. It’s alarming to me that this girl gave birth on her own, but even more alarming that she was able to keep it from her parents for nine months. How does a person go that unnoticed under the same roof. Children have to be educated correctly and feel safe talking to their parents about different issues, but before that children need our attention. Are we paying attention to our kids and do they know that we care? They need to have that trust in their own parents and family than to seek out their own means that can lead them to unfavorable situations.
I feel bad for her even if I don’t agree with what she did. I don’t know what she went through. But I know I’m a girl, and what I’m made of. I simply can’t believe a mother would want to throw her baby out the window. People get terrible, terrible episodes of post partum depression even when their babies are alive and healthy. I keep wondering how must she be feeling, essentially a child herself, having just killed her own newborn, and in jail. It makes me ache. We cannot continue to be oblivious to what goes on around us nor create a debilitating sense of fear in our own children. Any problem they go through, we have to ask ourselves not where we went wrong, but what are we not sufficiently providing for them and how can we make that better.
The safe haven needs to be at home.