It was sad to read the recent report of the university student in University Utara Malaysia, who delivered her baby in her hostel room, and then tried to cover up the excessive bleeding that she was experiencing by claiming that she was menstruating.
Just imagine the young girl, going through the trauma of giving birth (most probably for the first time), all by herself, with the added agony of the fear of being discovered.
While her action may not be entirely free of criticism, it is hoped that she will not be criminalised and punished. It is disconcerting to read that the Criminal Investigation Department is investigating the case under Section 31 of the Child Act 2001 for hiding a birth and neglect.
What she needs in her present situation is compassion, understanding and support to help her through this difficult period. Punishing her for a criminal offence will serve no constructive purpose, because after this traumatic experience, she is not likely to willingly get herself into a similar predicament in the future.
At the same time, this incident highlights the need for society in general and the university in particular, to put in place effective counseling services and other support mechanisms for girls in similar situations, so that they are not driven to such acts of desperation.