DUBAI, Dec 27(The National): A woman who gave birth in an airport toilet killed her baby and fled the country, police believe.
Officers are searching for an Ethiopian woman in her 30s whom they identified on closed circuit television footage after a cleaner discovered the baby's body in a waste bin last Thursday. They are also seeking an Interpol Red Notice regarding the woman.
It is unclear whether the woman was a UAE resident, tourist or passenger in transit. A security source said it appeared the woman had strangled the infant, whose body was undergoing further tests.
"Most likely the woman wanted to get rid of the baby as it was a child outside wedlock," said the source. "It seems that the woman had intended to leave the UAE before the delivery but was faced with a different reality in the airport."
Having a sexual relationship or a child outside wedlock are criminal offences in the UAE that carry sentences of up to three years in prison.
Fearing social stigma and possible prosecution, many unmarried women who become pregnant choose either to leave the country or abandon their offspring.
Seventeen infants were abandoned in the first eight months of 2008, according to the most recent statistics available from the Ministry of Social Affairs. It is not known how many newborns are killed or die after being abandoned.
According to the ministry the stigma of being born outside wedlock is one of the main causes of parents abandoning their children, along with the stigma of having a child with disabilities.
Earlier this year the police victim continuity programme publicised the case of a 10-year-old boy born outside wedlock who was forced to live in isolation from the world. He was not legally registered and his mother lived in fear of her family, society and a charge of unlawful sex.
For nine years the boy was forced to live in isolation at an old town house. His situation changed this year due to the police programme. He now has a legal birth certificate and is enrolled in school.