According to the Edhi Foundation, the extent of infanticide in the country has grown by some 100 percent over the last decade. A spokesperson for the organisation has been quoted as saying that more bodies were being found in the streets in urban centres than ever before. Most of the tiny corpses belong to girls, considered an economic burden by many families. We can only wonder at the impact of religion at such moments, and wonder why the clerics so rarely bring up the teachings of Islam against female infanticide. The ministry of religious affairs should be working to have the message driven home from every mosque. A situation in which over 1,200 bodies of slain infants were found in a single year is after all not one to be disregarded.
It is believed that some of the infants, who are killed within a few hours of being born, are illegitimate; many others die simply because their parents are too poor to raise them. It is this that explains the fact that more girls than boys are murdered. After all, the number born out of wedlock is likely to include an equal number of male and female infants. There is also a question here of mindset. In the 400 cradles placed outside its centres by the Edhi Foundation, only some 200 babies are left each year. People evidently prefer to murder their children — rather than give them a future, and allow adoption by, say, a childless couple.
Such thinking is hard to understand — but it says something about how brutal we have become as a society. Nothing seems to move us any longer. It take immense hardness of heart — or perhaps sheer desperation — to kill a helpless child. Since poverty appears to be a root cause, this too needs to be addressed. We also need to look at the reasons behind our failure to promote family planning, allowing people to limit the burdens they face and perhaps saving the lives of infants who die even as they are born, ending up on garbage dumps or open plots of land.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2012.