Pakistan: Karachi Becoming A Killing Field For Newborn Girls

From the News International:
ISLAMABAD:-In February this year, an anonymous caller rang at Edhi Center in Karachi. He informed about a dead body dumped in garbage. As the staffers reached at the venue, they were aghast at the barbarity.

They found a dead body of a new born. It was a four-day girl whose throat was slit with a sharp knife. While girls were buried in pre-Islamic period as unwanted creature, cruel souls in Karachi are a step ahead: they kill and throw them at garbage. This nameless girl is not the only victim of barbarity. From January 2017 to April 2018, Edhi foundation and Chhipa Welfare organisation have found 345 such new born babies dumped in garbage in Karachi only and 99 percent of them were girls.

“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 in Edhi Foundation Karachi, told The News.

Edhi Foundation has found 355 such dead infants from the garbage dumps across the country in 2017; 99 percent of them were identified girls. And Karachi has topped in this notorious ranking with 180 cases in 2017. 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 as Edhi foundation maintains the data of those cities where it provides services.

Chhipa Welfare Foundation, another NGO, came across 93 cases in Karachi where newborn girls were killed; around 70 babies in 2017 and 23 in this year.

“Though people abandon these innocent souls but as a welfare organization we cannot. We give them a proper burial and perform other rituals for these babies. After completing the hospital and police formalities, we burry them in our own graveyard. The burial and other rituals cost us around Rs 2,000 per child. I wonder how poor can a person be that he/she cannot afford Rs 2000 to give a proper burial to their child,” commented Shahid Mehmood spokesperson of Chhipa Welfare Organization.

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 this initiative received little success. One of the reasons for the lack of response to such ‘Jhoolas’ is wrath of religious leadership which believe this will promote illegitimacy. Although Edhi foundation claims they are getting positive response from people but their data is contradictory to this claim. According to Kazmi, the foundation received only 14 unwanted children in 2017, who were alive. Interestingly, 12 out of 14 were girls whereas the remaining two boys were physically unfit.

According to a police official in Additional Inspector General (AIG) Karachi office, Neelum Colony Karachi located near Clifton is one of the slum area of the metropolitan city. Majority of the inhabitant of this colony are living below the poverty line and are illiterate. Incidents of infanticide are occurring in those areas where people have no access to even basic necessities and Neelum Colony is one such area, brief an official in the AIG Karachi office.

Though police term poverty and illiteracy as root cause of infanticide but Edhi foundation’s office bearer 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”, says Mr. Kazmi.

“A few people found a baby at the door step of a mosque in Karachi and they handed the baby over to the prayer leader. The cleric decried that this is an illegitimate baby therefore he should be stoned. Resultantly the baby was stoned to death. I tried to register a case against the cleric but nothing happened”, narrated Kazmi….

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