One of the most heart breaking occurrences that have become common in the country is the violence against children; not just from sexual and domestic abuse but murder due to poverty and economic deprivation.

On Wednesday in Layyah, a father poisoned his five children and then himself. Earlier this month, a woman committed suicide after killing her two children in Lahore. In March, again in Layyah, a poverty-stricken mother killed two daughters by poisoning them and then attempted to commit suicide. The list of these cases in Pakistan is long and heart wrenching.

While it can be admitted that the cause of these deaths is poverty, and that these parents were under extreme mental stress, nothing gives a parent the right to take their child’s life. A child is a human being, and giving birth to a child does not make them the parent’s property. If a child cannot be assured protection, families have to come to terms with the fact that contraception, abstinence and a small family size are acceptable options.

Violence against children increases at a rate of 17 percent on average every year; and this violence is not just limited to corporal punishment. It includes making them work against their own will, neglect, sexual abuse, acid attacks, child marriages, abduction and trafficking but also killing them over petty domestic issues. A report prepared by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) found that almost 70000 cases of violence against children were reported in the year 2015.

When people blatantly refuse family planning and disseminating information about contraceptives is considered taboo by the state, it is the children who suffer. The burden and consequences of family planning are often put on the woman, who may not have access to health information or facilities. Parenthood is a choice and a grave responsibility, as is marriage. Until male members of the family are not brought on-board the idea of family planning, these incidences will keep happening. This requires open debate and information of options. Our societal niceties are not more important than human life and its creation.