Baby ‘confiscation’ case resolved

Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar | Thu, 01/08/2009 10:37 AM |

Bali It was the happy ending that the poor couple, Yetriyana Lopes, 28, and Mulyono, 29, had hoped for. Their four-month-old baby, Raditya Mulyana, has finally been returned to their arms after being “confiscated” by their midwife, Kurnianingsih, who kept the baby in her clinic when Mulyono could not afford the cost of delivery. “I’m just so happy to see my Raditya again. I was worried he was gone forever, but now he’s back with us and his twin brother,” Yetriyana said, smiling as she breastfeed him while her husband carried Aditya, the twin brother, in his arms. In the final chapter of the saga, Kurnianingsih returned the baby to their parents after the couple reported her to the police, accusing her of child trafficking. This resolution was facilitated by the Bali Legal Aid and Human Rights Foundation (PBHI), who represented Mulyono and Yetriyana, and Kurnianingsih’s lawyer, Made Suardana. Kurnianingsih handed the baby to the couple herself at the PBHI office in Renon, Denpasar on Tuesday as both parties agreed not to pursue legal action any further. “I’m happy as long as I have my son back,” Mulyono said. It was only a few days ago that Mulyono decided to report Kurnianingsih to the police for child trafficking, an offense which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and Rp 60 million ($US5600) in fines. Mulyono alleged that Kurnianingsih “confiscated” one of his newborn twins by forcing him to sign an agreement to hand his baby over to Kurnianingsih in order to erase the Rp 6 million delivery bill debt. Kurnianingsih vehemently denied Mulyono’s accusations, saying she charged him only Rp 2.5 million, which he failed to pay, and that Mulyono himself offered the baby in exchange for the erasure of the debt. On Tuesday, the midwife declined to give a statement, directing reporters to her lawyer, who said that Kurnianingsih harbored no ill will towards her patient and that the agreement was made to resolve the monetary situation. “This is all basically a misunderstanding. My client had no intention of stealing the boy. In fact she has the best of intentions and planned to take good care of him because his parents had said they could not afford to take care of the baby themselves,” he said. The misunderstanding, Suardana said escalated when an employee of Kurnianingsih’s clinic made the false allegation that Raditya had been given to a family in Yogyakarta, Java. “In fact he was being taken care of by our client. The employee said he was taken to Yogya because that person did not want the parents to go looking for him,” he said. Suardana said Kurnianingsih had planned to legally adopt Raditya at the Denpasar District Court, but canceled her plan when Mulyono complained to the police and the PBHI. Ni Nyoman Sri Widhiyanti, head of PBHI and Mulyono’s legal representative, said the deal was the best result possible. “We have looked at this case from a humanitarian angle since the beginning. It’s all about what’s best for the boy and that is to return him to his parents,” she said. Widhiyanti further blamed the case on the poor understanding of child protection laws, which cover adoption. “Many people in society remain oblivious to proper child adoption procedures and end up getting tangled in a legal mess,” she said. In a separate interview, deputy chief of the Bali Child Protection Commission, Luh Anggraeni, agreed to the need for more education on child protection laws, admitting that Kurnianingsih’s methods may be commonly used by child traffickers. “So far there has been a lot of education done on child trafficking, but people’s awareness remains low. Balinese people are still oblivious to cases such as (Raditya’s),” she said. “Midwifes must also be educated more intensively. There could be more of these informal adoptions going on without people knowing that it’s illegal.”

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