Two Pakistan-based NGOs are uncovering horrific cases of infanticide across the Asian nation, particularly targeting baby girls.
The Daily Mail reports hundreds of dead newborn babies – almost all of whom were girls – were discovered in garbage dumps in several major cities in 2017.
Leading the cause to end infanticide in Pakistan are the Edhi Foundation and Chhipa Welfare Foundation. Their staff tell horrifying stories about finding newborn babies with their throats cut and watching a religious leader call for a baby to be stoned to death because the baby was assumed to be “illegitimate.”
The groups said a cultural preference for male children, poverty and harsh punishments for out-of-wedlock children are some of the reasons for the high rate of infanticide. Studies show evidence of sex-selection abortions as well in Pakistan and other Asian countries. In some cases, studies indicate women are pressured or even forced to abort unborn baby girls.
Here’s more from The News International:
From January 2017 to April 2018, Edhi Center 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.
Shahid Mehmood, a spokesperson for Chhipa, said when they find the babies, they give them a proper burial with religious rituals after the police are finished investigating.
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Edhi workers also set up Jhoolas, or baby boxes, in major cities across Pakistan to help prevent infanticide, according to the report. The boxes saved 14 babies in 2017: 12 girls and two boys who had disabilities, the organization reported. Still, they said some religious leaders have criticized the boxes for allegedly promoting out-of-wedlock children.
The targeting of baby girls for abortion and infanticide is widespread.
In nearby India, the sex imbalance is one of the worst in the world. The 2011 India census data indicates there were 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under age 7, according to the BBC. In some parts of the country, the population imbalance was even worse. In the state of Tiruvannamalai, men outnumbered women at a ratio of 1,000 to 878.
In late 2016, an Indian government report suggested that, despite India’s rising income levels, sex-selection abortions and infanticide of girls continue to occur.
China has similar problems, with a ratio of 115.88 boys to 100 girls at birth in 2014, according to research by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Many link the country’s oppressive one-child policy (recently changed to a two-child policy) to the gender imbalance.
Though there is no exact estimate, experts say tens of millions of girls are missing from the world today as a result of sex-selection abortions and infanticide. A recent estimate from the Government of India put the number at 63 million, with about 2 million born and unborn girls being killed every year.
Sex-selection abortions are illegal in India and a number of other countries. However, in the United States, just a few states ban the deadly discriminatory practice.