The growing number of ‘baby boxes’ in Europe has attracted criticism from the United Nations, which has stated the boxes violate a child’s rights to know their parents.
What’s a baby box? Well, these capsules are often found built into the walls of hospitals, and are meant to provide a safe place to leave children who are not wanted by their parents. While an initial reaction to any parent dumping their child might be revulsion, proponents of the boxes argue they save lives. Previously, babies have been found abandoned down shady alleys, or even on rubbish dumps.
The boxes have grown in popularity in recent years, becoming increasingly popular in European countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany and Latvia. And they get some use as well. Since 2000, just over 400 children have been left in the 200 boxes across Europe. Baby boxes also prove popular with many religious commentators, who view them as a preferable solution to abortion.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is not as enamored. The organisation says such boxes contravene the state’s “duty to respect the child’s right to maintain personal relations with his or her parent,” violating the child’s right to a name and nationality in the process. And, more intriguingly, the committee argued that the boxes do not save lives.
Maria Herczog, a member of the UN committee, told the Guardian:
“Just like medieval times in many countries we see people claiming that baby boxes prevent infanticide there is no evidence for this.”
Herczog went on to argue that the boxes should be replaced with better provision for family planning to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Yet the masses also seem to think the boxes are a good idea: a recent survey in the Czech Republic found that the majority of the population favoured keeping the country’s 47 boxes.