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Pakistan: Over 300 newborn girls killed as families prefer boys

Pakistan: With Peaking Female Infanticide, 345 Newborn Bodies Recovered From Garbage Piles | Photo| REUTERS

Hundreds of dead newborn girls have been found dumped in garbage piles in Pakistan over the last year, as families prefer boys over girls, according to a new report.

Between January 2017 and April 2018, nonprofit groups Edhi Foundation and Chhipa Welfare Association have found 345 bodies of new born babies in garbage dumps in Karachi (the most populous city in Pakistan) alone, and 99 percent of them were girls, according to The News International, Pakistan’s largest English language newspaper.

“We have been dealing with such cases for years and there are a few such incidents which shook our souls as much. It left us wondering whether our society is heading back to primitive age,” Anwar Kazmi, a senior manager at Edhi Foundation Karachi, told The News International April 26.

Anwar Kazmi further explained to the newspaper that a baby was found at the doorstep of a mosque, and people handed her over to a cleric, who ordered that the girl be stoned to death because it was “an illegitimate baby.”

“I tried to register a case against the cleric but nothing happened,” Kazmi complained.

In another case, the body of a newborn baby was found with her throat slit with a sharp knife.

As many as 72 dead girls have been buried in the first four months of this year by Edhi Foundation alone in the metropolitan city. The given data is just tip of the iceberg, Edhi foundation maintains.

“We give them a proper burial and perform other rituals for these babies. After completing the hospital and police formalities, we bury them in our own graveyard,” Shahid Mehmood, a spokesperson for Chhipa, was quoted as saying.

Media sources report that in many South Asian countries, including Pakistan and India, families do not want girls to be born.

Girls are culturally seen as “someone else’s property,” as traditionally a woman leaves her home and moves into her husband’s home after marriage. The bride’s parents also have to pay a huge sum of money as “dowry” to the groom’s family to look after their daughter.

The News International  reports that in many major cities of Pakistan, Edhi foundation installed ‘Jhoolas’ (baby cradles) so that the people should leave unwanted children there instead of killing them.

The number of such sites is in hundreds across the country but, reports show this initiative received little success. One of the reasons for the lack of response to such ‘Jhoolas’ is reportedly wrath of religious leadership which believe this will promote illegitimacy.

A police official in Additional Inspector General (AIG) Karachi office, Neelum Colony Karachi located near Clifton, told media incidents of infanticide are occurring in areas where people have no access to basic necessities.

Though they [police] term poverty and illiteracy as root cause of infanticide, Edhi foundation has different views about it.

According to Mr. Kazmi, in majority of cases infanticide is occurring due to out of wedlock births.

Normally, people kill girls if they are born out of wedlock as this is consider a stigma. However if the baby is a boy the family try to protect him. “We have seen so many horrible incidents. One such incident which still I remember despite passage of more than a decade is the stoning of a new born baby who was found outside mosque”, according to Mr. Kazmi.

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