A court order has saved this baby girl from being “sacrificed” by indigenous villagers because of her disability.
The Constitution of Brazil guarantees indigenous people the right to practice infanticide in cases of babies born with a serious health condition.
However, a 2015 bill that is still waiting to be voted on in the Federal Senate seeks to abolish the practice. President Jair Bolsonaro has reportedly said he wants to see it passed this year.
The 10-month-old baby girl from the Kamayura indigenous tribe was born in a village in the Xingu Indigenous Park in the west-central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso with encephalocele.
Great Ormond Street Hospital describes encephalocele as “a rare congenital type of neural tube defect where part of the skull has not formed properly so a portion of brain tissue and associated structures are outside the skull”.
The baby girl was rejected by her own mother due to her visible facial deformities.
The girl’s father also refused custody of the youngster, claiming the neurological consultations and specialised treatment she needed would be too much work for him.
The baby’s parents told the authorities that an aunt would be able to raise the girl.
However, the judge presiding over the case, citing the culture of the Kamayura tribe, in which infanticide is considered ethically acceptable, convinced the authorities that the child would be in danger if returned to her community.
Judge Gleide Bispo dos Santos said the risk was “rejection and, consequently, sacrifice”.
A 53-year-old social worker, who accompanied the couple since their daughter’s birth and who convinced them to take her to the state capital Cuiaba so she could undergo head surgery, has offered to take custody of the youngster.
The baby’s parents signed a waiver renouncing their parental rights to their biological daughter last month. The girl has been under the care of the social worker and the social worker’s family ever since.
The presiding court is currently monitoring the girl’s progress and may grant permanent custody to the social worker in the near future.
The population of the Kamayura tribe was said to be 467 in 2011.