Frequent news about illegal pregnancies, abortions, dumping babies in gutters, dumpsters and killing of hundreds of illegitimate newborn babies is always intensely painful and tormenting for very sensible and sensitive one in our Islamic republic. In Pakistan, abortion, infanticide is illegal and so is adultery, even then, we hear about cases of children born out of wedlock and then are killed clandestinely due to the stigma of illegitimacy. Premarital relations are strictly prohibited in the country and are frowned upon by society, and that is the reason there is probably no bigger taboo than having a child out of wedlock. According to Islamic point of view, infanticide is a punishable crime and Islamic laws award very severe punishment. However, despite such penalties and social taboos, people are still involved in an extramarital relationship, and ultimately they commit a hideous crime of infanticide.

In different societies, different factors contribute to this evil. However, this hideous crime cannot be justified or acceptable at all even whatever the reasons are there. According to media reports, the ratio of female infanticide is higher than male infanticide. Female infanticide is a practice of killing baby girls either by abortion or after her birth. This is a shameful act being done by people across the region. There are several causes of the growing female infanticide. For instance, people give more value to a baby boy than a baby girl. It is very common, illogical and inexplicable notion that son is being considered as a real asset as he may earn money and may become a supporter of the family in future while a girl is viewed as a liability because one day she will have to marry with someone and ultimately she will leave home. Apart from this people are getting worried and scared about the finances required for her marriage as dowry is also worst practice followed by our society. This whole scenario leads them towards female infanticide. In newspapers intermittently we read about the cases where newborn babies especially females were thrown in garbage brutally and sometimes corpses of babies had been found which were partly eaten by animals.

This horrid scenario is unfolding our worst apathy and declining state of our morality and humanity. It is a high time to address this issue at different forums to aware people from different backgrounds especially our youth. The very first change that we all have to bring in our society is to educate our community and change the mindset and perception of people. We should not consider girls a burden. These days girls can support their family financially by their determination and selfless efforts and sacrifices, and they can do every job like boys. Moreover, the most crucial step is to eradicate dowry system from our societies, which is the biggest reason for female infanticide. When parents do not need to worry about money for the dowry so they will not consider daughters as a liability.

The government should also declare infanticide as a national shame and must initiate a crusade to save these innocent infants. The commendable initiative “Edhi Cradles or Edhi Jhoola” by Edhi Foundation is a kind of blessing to lessen such practices, but the government must yield more accessible places or institutes like “Edhi Cradles”, where babies could be left without any inquiry, to avoid killing of innocent babies. Individually and collectively we should promulgate awareness, and social mobilisation on this issue is needed for the eradication of the problem. Finally, Government must take immediate actions and explore all possible avenues to stop such practices.

IMRAN ALI PHULL.

Karachi, June 20.