532,158. That's the staggering amount of children in Malaysia that are being labelled as "illegitimate children".
Between 2005 and 2015, more than half a million children that were born out of wedlock registered with the National Registration Department (JPN).
This was revealed by the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim in the Parliament yesterday, 10 November.
She added that the statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) revealed that there were 526 cases of abandoned babies in the last ten years
On the other hand, the health ministry found that there were 16,270 cases of teenage pregnancies out of wedlock from 2012 to 2015.
"Based on the statistics from the ministry, from 2012 to 2015, the three states which had the highest number of teenage pregnancies were Sarawak (5,246), Johor (2,427) and Selangor (1,603)," Rohani was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Earlier this year, the Batang Lupar MP revealed that more than half of the babies that were dumped in 2015 were found dead.
"It shows that more than 50% of the dumped babies did not survive due to the condition of the dumping place and their fragility," she reportedly told The Star in January this year.
According to Rohani, the ministry had no specific data on these cases
She explained that the Women, Family and Community Development, through the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN), was more focused on intervention and prevention programmes when addressing the issue.
Rohani said this in response to a question raised by Datuk Johari Abdul (PKR-Sungai Petani) on the number of illegitimate babies born between 2005 to 2015, and the action taken to solve the problem.
She went on to highlight several initiatives that have been implemented by the government to tackle the social issue
According to Rohani, the ministry has taken steps to educate the public on the topic of family and parenting by imparting knowledge and skills to them. There are also programmes in line to reach out to teenagers, families and the community about reproductive health and sexuality.
It was reported that the National Reproductive Health Education and Social Policy 2009 was formed by the government to produce individuals who were informed and had positive attitudes on reproductive and social health.
"By exposing youths to proper information and appropriate developmental exercises at an early age, they can be empowered with knowledge and skills that will help them to make wise choices regarding their own reproductive health and sexuality as a teen," she was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.
Do you think the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development has done enough to address this issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.