Marital status issue should not overshadow children's needs, says activist

The couple's decision to bring their ill child to the hospital on a motorcycle, despite potential public scrutiny, demonstrated their commitment to their child's health.

WALA ABDUL MUIZ
WALA ABDUL MUIZ
28 May 2024 12:53pm
The viral image of the couple with their son.
The viral image of the couple with their son.
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SHAH ALAM – The marital status of parents should not overshadow a child’s need for timely and adequate medical care, says Yayasan Chow Kit founder.

Dr Hartini Zainuddin said this when commenting on the recent issue involving a couple who went viral after a picture of them riding a motorcycle with their sick 11-month-old baby circulated.

The image eventually sparked a debate on the couple's marital status rather than focusing on the child's urgent health needs.

"The well-being of the children should remain the focal point.

"Judgements based on marital status should not overshadow the essential need to ensure that all children have access to healthcare, education and a stable, nurturing environment," she said.

She urged the public and community to concentrate on providing support and resources to help stabilise and strengthen the family unit.

By shifting the focus to supportive measures, she believed a more compassionate and effective approach to child welfare and family support could be achieved.

Hartini highlighted that the couple's decision to bring their ill child to the hospital on a motorcycle, despite potential public scrutiny, demonstrated their commitment to their child's health.

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YCK founder Dr Hartini Zainudin
YCK founder Dr Hartini Zainudin

"This act alone deserves recognition for their dedication to their child's well-being, especially under difficult circumstances," she said.

Dr Hartini stressed that the couple’s marital status should not detract from the critical issue of ensuring that every child has the right to timely and adequate medical care.

"Forcing the couple to separate due to their marital status can have profound negative effects on their children.

“Stability in a family environment is crucial for the emotional and psychological development of children.

“Sudden disruptions can lead to anxiety, insecurity, and trauma, particularly for young children who rely heavily on their carers for support and stability,” Hartini said.

She urged the public to consider the full context before passing judgement.

"It is so easy to judge when we are not in someone else's shoes," she said.

Hartini also proposed a multifaceted approach to improving the lives of children, which includes ensuring regular access to healthcare services, including preventive care and emergency services, potentially through transportation vouchers or mobile clinics for families in remote areas.

She also emphasised the importance of educational support to ensure children have access to quality early childhood education, continued support as they grow and counselling and support services to help children cope with any trauma or instability they may have experienced.

In terms of economic stability, Hartini suggested financial assistance for hospital bills and other medical expenses as well as community programmes that support family unity and well-being, such as parenting workshops, community centres and local support groups.

"Remaining unmarried may pose certain legal and social challenges, but it does not necessarily equate to irresponsibility," Hartini said.

Recently, the child’s plight garnered nationwide attention, including from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, leading to donations pouring in.

However, it later emerged that the couple on the motorcycle were not married.

On Sunday, the couple announced they would marry soon.