What Happens to Lebanese “Bastard” Children?

Here’s an interesting fact for you: if a medical case qualifies as untransferable, a hospital cannot refuse to admit it. A woman in labor is one of those cases.

It so happened to be my luck that I had night duty on a day that a woman came in labor. Of course, this is not out of the ordinary for any healthcare establishment and the hospital I was at was more than equipped. This woman, however, had already delivered the baby whose color was slowly turning blue, asphyxiating as the placenta remained inside his mother’s womb.

The Red Cross personnel rushed her in. They had already been refused entry at a previous hospital despite their pleading. They carried her over to our floor. She had no known physician. She said she was married but neither her husband nor any family member for that matter were anywhere to be found. She didn’t know her due date. She didn’t know she was pregnant until very recently. She had no idea what the baby’s gender was going to be. She had no idea what her blood type was. Asking questions was deemed futile.

We cut off the baby’s umbilical cord, effectively severing his connection to his mother. A midwife took care of bringing the baby’s vitals up to par while the obstetrical team handled the mother. They delivered the placenta, stitched whatever needed stitching and made sure her risk of any postpartum bleeding was minimal, while double checking everything they needed to check to avert complications.

Bureaucracy started next. We managed to get a phone number to call. It was her father. Let’s say he wasn’t very pleased to be told he had become a grandfather. We asked about her husband again, now that there was nothing wrong with her and her baby was safe and sound. She dodged the question. It was getting late so the medical team figured they’d call it a day while the logistics section of the hospital staff panicked over what to do with this patient. It wasn’t every day that you’d get such cases.

It was discovered the following day that this woman was not married. So here’s another interesting fact for you: most Lebanese hospitals have a rule not to allow unmarried and pregnant women to deliver. The exception is when they cannot refuse them, as in this case.

The story then got better. This was a woman who was molested by her father when she was fourteen. She worked as a prostitute. She also didn’t want the baby.

As I learned of this while looking over her baby in the nursery, I felt sad for the little premature-born boy in front of me. His mother didn’t want him. He had no family that would take him in. His only hope was the convent to which he would be given.

I asked around to see what would happen to that kid. No one knew. They also didn’t care. I guess it comes with the territory of maybe seeing such things often when you’ve been doing your job for as long as they have.  Someone told me he would actually be registered as a “bastard” child in the country’s registry books. But with his mother not wanting him, who would register him? With no proof that the father is Lebanese, since we don’t know who he is, how will this baby be nationalized? How will he build a life for himself?

Pregnancy out of wedlock in Lebanon is not as rare as many want to believe. I’ve seen many women come, wanting to keep everything hush-hush, in order to see what they can do with the fetus growing inside them. As a country, we’re still not willing to discuss this. For many, those women are whores and those children don’t deserve to live. But those women are not. And those children deserve life if their mothers want to carry on with the pregnancy. Not everyone lives in the narrow moral code that many people have set forth for themselves and expect everyone to abide by. Lebanese regulations, however, don’t think like me.

What happens to the bastard children of Lebanon? I saw how bleak that little boy’s future would be as the elevator doors closed on his mother’s non-caring face.


9 thoughts on “What Happens to Lebanese “Bastard” Children?

  1. ”Lebanese hospitals have a rule not to allow unmarried and pregnant women to deliver”.Not only an interesting fact but such an unethical conduct from places supposed to help human beings of all kinds.Moreover,what an hypocritical attitude when behind closed doors abortions on unmarried women are practiced,or even more laughable,virginity are ”repaired”!


  2. These kind of stories make me so sad, i would go to the moon and back to have a child and here are people who take these matters so lightly. Every child deserves a loving family but let me tell you trying to adopt a child from Lebanon is a whole other story. No one even cares to advocate for these children, so sad.


  3. Discrimination in the medical department in lebanon is not just this issue, it has a much wider range. For example, in tripoli there are hospitals exclusively for sunna who wont admit chiaa people and vice versa, which makes it impossible for paramedics and red cross workers to do their jobs, even during emergencies. Now what i can’t understand is how I’m supposed to pit my life in the hands of a “doctor” who can so easily break his oath.


  4. Reblogged this on Lebanese Voices's Blog and commented:
    Yesterday i was a “katb kteb” of my cousin, and the shiekh was preaching about how procreation and marriage are a religious duty and that those that avoid them are sinful. I wanted to laugh out loud and give him the finger and walk out.
    In a country of endless “martyrs”, children are left with no parents, 1000s of those reside in orphanages across the country, many live with their extended families until they are old enough to get a job and manage their own. Yet our answer to empower our community is to pop more babies, instead of encouraging people that may not to be able to afford it, or that can and want to to adopt an abandoned soul. No human is less worthy of your love.
    No Child deserves to be left behind.
    It’s disgusting that we still look at sex outside marriage with such mystery, that some women are still not confident about their sexual knowledge even after marriage. The country is filled religiously camouflaged encounters, from molestation at “God’s Houses” to “temporary wedlocks”, but hush hush, don’t call Lebanon a sexual escape. The brothels don’t speak of the tourists that have disappeared .


  5. Pingback: Quote of the Week - mallaidh.org

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