What happens when a young woman gets pregnant, hides it, gives birth alone, disposes of the baby and then the baby is found dead? What happens when the police get notified? What is the role of online media in covering a story for which a verdict has not yet been decided?
Friday night to early Saturday a baby was born in a bathtub of an apartment in the neighborhood of Nea Smyrni in Athens, Greece. The mother, a 22 year-old student, after cutting the umbilical cord herself, wraps the baby on a piece of cloth, and disposes of the baby by allegedly throwing it out of the balcony to the light shaft of the building where she lives with her mother. Hours later, the baby is found dead and the police conduct an investigation to find the mother of the child and those responsible for its death.
Up to this point little can be said about the details of the case but Greek online Media already had quite a go at it. The story made the headlines and assumptions appeared as facts.
Regarding those involved in the case they have been described in multiple ways. The mother is mainly referred to as a 22 years old woman/or mother and all the articles mention that she is a university student. From accused of infanticide to even a murderer the media seem to have reached a verdict even before the actual jury and they’ve even seem to have their first scape goat. Reading between the lines her identity as a child of divorced parents seems for some to be to blame. Others talk about the financial status of her family, her psychological condition and the fact that her pregnancy was unwanted.
It’s interesting to note down that all of the articles mention that she was hiding the pregnancy from her relatives. The alleged father, who is her ex-boyfriend with whom they were studying together in another city, fled when she told him that she was pregnant. As of the 22 year’s old father, he is not mentioned in any of the articles. Therefore, it is evident that little justice do the media seek by the male figures involved in the case.
They were on the other hand very descriptive of the woman’s actions: “She threw the baby to the light shaft or of the balcony and she killed it”.
The baby is referred to as a newborn infant, a baby boy – not all of the articles mention the gender of the baby -, a dead baby and an unfortunate body. Some articles urged to appeal to the emotion of their readers by using a raw description of the mother’s actions that led to its characterization as a “lifeless little body”. Little is mentioned of the probable cause of its death as it’s still unknown, but some probabilities to count were the cold, suffocation and the fact that the baby didn’t get the right nutrition after it was born.
On the legal side of the case, though the woman herself has confessed her guilt, it is of importance to note that in Greece there is no established legal framework for immediate adoptions or immediate placement to a selected family. This means that she could not proceed with the labor in a protected and monitored environment and then part ways with the newborn. The law suggests that in such cases the mother has to take care of the child and arrange a formal adoption later on. Any other possible outcome would have been illegal. Greece faces problems regarding unwanted pregnancies and births but the legal gaps have not yet been examined. Therefore, there is a steady phenomenon of illegal adoptions of newborns being reported throughout the years.
Not only do the families have to act on the margins of the above-mentioned legal gap, but in such cases the mothers have to cope with the absence of the father on top of the exhaustive process of pregnancy and labor. An absence demonstrated in both psychical and legal terms. Ghost figures, who nobody searches for, the fathers are not to be accused by anyone and face no legal charges whatsoever while mothers are also being exposed to the public’s critique.
Done by: Participants from Greece