Karachi’s struggle with female infanticide

Karachi: A deep-seated cultural preference for boys appears to be prevalent in Pakistan’s Karachi.

According to local media reports, hundreds of dead bodies of newborns have been recovered from garbage piles across Pakistan in the last few months.

A report in The News International said, “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.”

In February, a case was reported from Karachi’s Edhi Center, wherein a 4-day-old girl was found dead with her throat slit.

Chhipa Welfare Foundation said that they came across 93 such cases in Karachi. Of them, seventy cases were reported in 2017, while 23 this year.

In another barbaric incident, a newborn was reportedly stoned to death by a Karachi-based cleric.

“A few people found a baby at the doorstep of a mosque in Karachi and they handed the baby over to the prayer leader. The cleric decried that this is an ‘illegitimate baby’ and he should be stoned. Resultantly, the baby was stoned to death,” The News International quoted Anwar Kazmi, a senior manager at Edhi Foundation Karachi, as saying.

He further informed that he tried to register a case against the cleric but no action was taken.

Kazmi informed that usually, kids born out of wedlocks were abandoned and that girls were targeted more than the boys due to some social stigma.

As per the news piece, the police investigations in cases of female infanticide were not strong enough. Firstly, people refrained themselves from reporting such incidents to the law enforcing authorities and secondly, those cases were avoided. The laws to prevent crimes against infants were often violated.

The article also quoted an Oxford Institute of Population Ageing study, which found that couples in Pakistan bore children until they had the desired number of sons and daughters.

The research showed that the family planning decisions in the country were more favourable to boys as sons were perceived more valuable than daughters. (ANI)