Belgium authorises ‘mailbox’ system to abandon babies anonymously

Belgium is to introduce a ‘mailbox’ system to abandon babies anonymously.

Belgian NGO Corvia has announced it has received authorisation to open the first ‘mailbox’ in Brussels.

After three years of litigation, the association has been granted permission to open the system in the district of Evere, which will allow parents who want to give up their child to do so anonymously.

A ban issued by the former mayor, Pierre Muylle, has been annulled by the Council of State, and the ‘baby booths’ are expected to officially open in early October.

According to Corvia spokeswoman, Mathilde Pelsers, the intention is to avoid further abandonment of babies.

So how does it work?

First of all, the mother – assuming she’s the one who attends – has to push a green door. Inside there will be a heated crib to leave the baby.

Next to the crib, there will be an envelope where there will be a ‘unique item’. With that item, the mother can identify her child later if she wants to.

There will also be the option to leave details.

When the door closes, it locks permanently.

Thanks to an alarm warning, a caretaker is alerted once the person is gone.

A doctor is immediately called to check the health status of the newborn and the authorities are notified.

The controversial initiative has been met with criticism, but the NGO argues that it does not encourage the abandonment of minors but “offers a possibility for mothers to leave their child safely.”

Belgium’s first “baby box” was installed in Antwerp 20 years ago and in the USA, 13 systems were installed in 2019 in Indiana, Ohio and Arizona.

It was an initiative of the Safe Heaven Baby Boxes (SHBB) an American organisation which strives to reduce the number of deaths caused by the abandonment of newborns in the streets, reports Efe.

Founded by Mónica Kelsey, SHBB claims to offer an alternative to the so-called “safe havens” offered by the government, which requires identification of mothers who leave their children in them.

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Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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