Monday, 30 April 2018

Karachi becoming a killing field for newborn girls


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.
The ratio of infanticide is high in the South Asian region. Particularly, the trend of killing girls is rising. The South Asia is well known for having more preference for sons than daughters. According to a study carried out by Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford, over the past two decades, son preference has become more strongly associated with the practice of continuing to bear children until couples have achieved their desired number of sons and daughters in Pakistan.
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