Some of the babies were barbarically murdered, according to the Karachi-based News International, with the gender of the babies appearing to play a role in the gruesome acts, since 99 percent of them were girls.
“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. I tried to register a case against the cleric, but nothing happened,” Anwar Kazmi, a senior manager at Edhi Foundation in Karachi, told the News International.
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Edhi Foundation, a non-profit operating in the region, found 355 dead infants from the garbage dumps across the country in 2017, with Karachi logging the most cases, 180 cases in 2017.
A baby was also reportedly stoned to death by a Karachi cleric.
Edhi Foundation has so far buried over 70 infants in first four months of the year. The foundation has reported that the there could be many more cases as the foundation only has data for the cities in which it operates.
“Even 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 bury them in our own graveyard,” Shahid Mehmood spokesperson of Chhipa Welfare Organization, said, Geo TV reported.
An official at the Additional Inspector General (AIG) Karachi office, said the most of the infanticide cases occur in regions where people lack access to necessities.
“We have seen so many horrible incidents. One such incident which still I remember despite the passage of more than a decade is the stoning of a newborn baby who was found outside the mosque,” Kazmi noted.
According to the 2017 census, Pakistan has a ratio of 48.7 women to 51 men; 0.2 percent are transgender persons.
Poverty, however, is not the only reasons for infanticide or child abandonment, Imkaan Welfare Organisation Director Tahera Hasan stated.
“If a person has eight children then another one won’t be a burden on him. We need to look into other aspects as well. Illegitimacy can be another major cause of child abandonment, but unfortunately, very little work has been done on this” Hasan noted.
The report pointed out unwanted pregnancies are also an issue, coupled with poverty and societal stigma.
“According to the Guttmacher Institute, around 4.2 million women in Pakistan experience unintended pregnancies. The extremely limited legality of abortion raises the risk of parents choosing female infanticide rather than raising a girl. The perception that girls are a financial burden who will not contribute to family income also adds to the desire for sons. Even though infanticide and child abandonment are both crimes under Pakistan’s Penal Code,” the News International reported.
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