Even on Christmas, a poor family can’t have its baby

Ni Komang Erviani ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Denpasar   |  Tue, 12/30/2008 11:03 AM  |  Bali

The dearth of Christmas joy was palpable in the boarding room rented by Mulyono, 29, and Yetriyana Lopes, 28, on Jl. Blanjong, Sanur, on Thursday.

The youngest of their three sons, Raditya Mulyana, who was born in August together with his twin brother Aditya Mulyana, could not be with them to celebrate Christmas because the parents could not afford the boy’s delivery expenses.

Sadly, this is a common situation in Indonesia, where poor parents who cannot afford delivery costs often leave maternity wards without their babies.

And Mulyono’s case has ended up similar to many others: A legal struggle to prove whether poor parents should be trusted with their children.

The story began on Aug. 28, when Mulyono and his still-pregnant wife Yetriyana walked into Kurnianingsih maternity clinic on Jl. Sedap Malam, Denpasar, which was just a kilometer away from their former boarding house on Jalan Hang Tuah.

But Mulyono left with just their first child, Akbar, and Aditya, twin to Raditya. As Mulyono could not afford the Rp 1.5 million (US$136) delivery bill, the clinic forced the mother and Raditya to stay until all money matters were resolved.

Three weeks later, Mulyono returned with Rp 1 million, but he said that by then the bill had gone up to Rp 6 million because of the added expense from the room and incubator usage.

He then said that on Sept. 15 he had been forced to sign an agreement which stated that if he gave up one of the twins, the clinic would clear him of all of his debts.

“I had to sign because they said if I didn’t, they would report it to the police,” he said.

Kurnianingsih, the trained and certified midwife at the clinic, denied forcing Mulyono to give up his third child.

She said the idea had, in fact, came from Mulyono.

“He offered me his baby. He himself told me, ‘is there anyone who will take of my son?’ I felt sorry for him, so I decided to look for able parents,” Kurnianingsih said, who also works in the East Denpasar public health center.

Kurnianingsih, who opened her maternity clinic in 2001, further denied raising the delivery expenses to Rp 6 million.

“That is a lie. The extra three-weeks cost only Rp 1 million, so the total was only Rp 2.5 million,” she said.

She defended her decision to bar Yetriyana and her baby from leaving, saying that she already had too many patients running away without paying their bills.

“Mulyono said he was going to leave his I.D., but I already have too many I.D.s here belonging to people who never came back to pay. I was not going to let that happen again.”

Kurnianingsih and Mulyono gave different accounts as to what happened to Raditya. She said the baby is still in Bali, and would be returned as soon as Mulyono paid his debts, while Mulyono claimed that the baby had been taken to Yogyakarta.

Mulyono has reported the case to the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), saying that he did not want to at first but that the clinic was ignoring his pleas.

Head of Bali chapter of PBHI, Ni Nyoman Sri Widhiyanti, said she was still studying Mulyono’s case, but had pledged to do all she could to bring Mulyono and his son back together.

Widhiyanti said such cases were symptomatic of possible human trafficking cases, which remains a problem in Indonesia.

“This is already a form of human trafficking. We are concerned that this may be a model of child trafficking practices,” she said.

She further regretted Kurnianingsih’s decision to confiscate a child.

“The midwife has broken the law. She has forced the parents to separate from the child.”

As for Yetriyana, she simply longs to see her son again.

“I want my son. Everytime I see Aditya, I keep thinking about Raditya. I wonder where he is now,” she said, tears forming in her eyes.

About erviani

Jatuh cinta dengan dunia jurnalistik sejak bergabung dengan Lembaga Pers Mahasiswa Indikator, Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Brawijaya. Sempat bekerja untuk Harian Warta Bali, 2003 - 2005, Koresponden Majalah GATRA untuk wilayah Bali, anggota redaksi Media HIV/AIDS dan Narkoba KULKUL, TPI, dan Koran Seputar Indonesia. Menulis lepas kini menjadi aktivitas keseharian. Kini aktif sebagai kontributor untuk beberapa media yakni Bali Daily-The Jakarta Post, Mongabay Indonesia, dan Khabat Southeast Asia.
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