A woman who was arrested by police for leaving a newborn baby in a bag on a street said she acted "out of desperation" and now wants her baby returned, according to local media reports.
The woman was identified as Sandra Queiroz, a 37-year-old mother of two other children. She was caught on CCTV images last Sunday leaving the baby in Higienópolis, São Paulo, an affluent neighbourhood in Brazil.
Queiroz gave birth to the baby girl last Sunday in the bathroom of her employer's home, where she works as a maid. She placed the baby, wrapped in blankets, in a paper bag under a tree.
She was arrested by police as she walked her daughter to school.
The baby was found by a caretaker who heard the baby cry as he walked to church. He was praised by the media and hailed a "hero" by the public.
The child was taken to Santa Casa de Misericordia hospital and, following widespread media attention of the case, became known as "the baby of Higienópolis."
Despite the outcry against Queiroz in the media, others in the country defended the mother.
The Facebook post (above) about Queiroz went viral. The post criticises Estadão, a major newspaper, for saying Queiroz "abandoned" her child in its headline.
"It didn't fit in the headline the fact that this mother lived in a senzala*," Lucas Bulgarelli wrote. "It didn't fit in the headline that she abandoned her newborn because she was afraid to lose her job. It didn't fit the father. It didn't fit that she delivered the baby by herself, on the maid's dorm room. It didn't fit that, a few blocks away, there is a clandestine abortion clinic for the rich."
* Senzala literally means "slave's dorm", but is used as a metaphor for the tiny, sometimes windowless maid's dorms that are very common in Brazil.
Queiroz said she feared she would lose her job if she had another baby. However, her employer has since stated that she doesn't plan to dismiss her, and that her employer's son, who is a lawyer, will defend her in court.
Other people pointed to the fact that Queiroz didn't have access to an abortion services. In Brazil, abortion is only legal if the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman or is a result of rape.
According to local press, a close friend of Queiroz said the child's father "didn't care" about the situation. Queiroz later said: "I am very sorry for what happened. The pain I'm feeling right now is much higher than the birth."
Thumbnail credit: MARLENE BERGAMO (FOLHAPRESS)
Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rossalyn Warren at email@example.com.
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