Five foetuses were found from a garbage dump in Akhtar Colony on Tuesday.
Two of them were found in plastic jars while the remaining three were wrapped in plastic shopping bags. The police was informed about the bodies after scavengers in the area found them, said SHO Rao Muqeem. Edhi volunteers were contacted to help as well.
According to the scavengers who go through the garbage every day, the bodies were disposed off on Monday. “There was nothing in the dump yesterday,” said one of the scavengers, Dawood. “Initially we thought the jars had food in them, but when we looked closely we realised they were dead babies.”
The foetuses have been sent to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for medico-legal formalities. Sources at the hospital said that all five foetuses were girls and weighed between 300 grams to 390 grams. The medical board of doctors, including Dr Jalil Qadir, Dr Kaleem and Dr Manzoor, are trying to ascertain their proper ages but it is estimated that they were between three and six months.
According to the police surgeon, Dr Mohammed Padhiar, the foetuses found from Akhtar Colony are not from the same pregnancy as they have different weights and ages. Four babies were premature while one was close to the delivery date. He said that the jars found are similar to those used by medical students and doctors in labs.
Almost a dozen legal and illegal small maternity homes are operating in Akhtar Colony. As news of the foetuses spread, the residents were quick to accuse private maternity homes of throwing the foetuses out after induced abortions.
“Maternity homes in poor localities are not credible,” said a frustrated resident Hammad Nasir. “The bodies of newborn babies are often found here but this is the first case of premature babies.”
The police have started searching the maternity clinics in the locality as part of their investigation. SHO Muqeem said that there is a high probability that a maternity hospital is responsible. The police are also looking for possible witnesses. “It could not be someone from outside who came to dump the bodies; it is probably someone from this locality,” he added.
Most of the dead newborn babies found across Karachi are that of girls. In 2010, around 1,000 bodies of newborn babies were reported from across the country, while over 1,100 bodies were found in 2011. Eighty bodies have been reported so far this year.
It is much rarer for premature foetuses to be found. Four years ago, the bodies of six aborted babies were found from Masan Road, Keamari.
Edhi spokesperson Anwar Kazmi said that such incidents usually occur in poor localities such as Mehmoodabad, Chanesar Goth, Baloch Colony, Landhi, Korangi, Qayyumabad and Keamari. “We have repeatedly said that if someone does not want to keep their baby, they can leave them in the cradle outside our centres, but still these incidents are on the rise,” he said. “Poverty, disabilities, unwillingness to have children, illegitimate pregnancies and the birth of girls in the family, are the main reasons for these deaths.”
The premature babies are often helpful for medical students, hospitals and medical colleges for medical research and are kept inside jars. Kazmi said that the bodies are usually disposed off as garbage or in nullahs, instead of being handed over to a welfare association for a proper burial.
In 2010, 150 babies were left in Edhi cradles all over the country, 15 out of which were left at the centre in Karachi. In 2011, 110 babies were left out of which 20 were from Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2012.