In Pakistan, sex-selective abortion often occurs outside the womb. Welfare organizations reported finding hundreds of dead newborn infants thrown away in the trash — 345 in the city of Karachi alone during the past 16 months. The overwhelming majority of them are girls.
Between January 2017 and April 2018, the Edhi Foundation and Chhipa Welfare organization found 345 babies dumped lifeless in the trash in Karachi, with 99 percent of them girls.
“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, a spokesperson for Chhipa Welfare Organization, told Pakistan’s The News International.
Chhipa Welfare Organization found 93 cases in Karachi where newborn girls had been killed, 70 babies in 2017 and 23 babies so far this year.
The Edhi Foundation found 355 dead newborns in garbage dumps across the country in 2017, and 99 percent of them were identified as girls. Edhi found 180 such cases in Karachi alone in 2017. The group also found 72 dead girls buried in the first four months of 2018.
This past February, an anonymous caller alerted Edhi Center in Karachi that he had found a dead body dumped in the trash.
Staffers found the lifeless body of a newborn baby girl. The baby’s throat had been slit with a sharp knife, just four days after her entry into the world. The News reported that girls were buried alive in the pre-Islamic period — a barbaric practice rightly condemned by Islam. Even so, murderous parents in Karachi now throw their dead infants into the garbage.
“We have been dealing with such cases for years and there are few such incidents which shook our souls as much,” Anwar Kazmi, a senior manager at the Edhi Foundation in Karachi, told The News. “It left us wondering whether our society is heading back to the primitive age.”
According to police, most residents in the area of Karachi where Edhi found the baby are living below the poverty line and illiterate. The police pointed to poverty and illiteracy as the root causes of infanticide.
Kazmi disagreed. The Edhi Foundation staffer said most cases of infanticide involve out-of-wedlock births. “Normally, people kill girls if they are born out of wedlock as this is considered a sigma,” The News reported. “However if the baby is a boy the family try to protect him.”
Kazmi even recalled the stoning of a newborn baby outside a mosque.
“A few people found a baby at the doorstep of a mosque in Karachi and they handed the baby over to the prayer leader,” he recounted. “The cleric decried that this is an illegitimate baby therefore he should be stoned. Resultantly the baby was stoned to death. I tried to register a case against the cleric but nothing happened.”
Infanticide is a criminal offense in Pakistan, but that does not prevent it. Abortion is legal in limited circumstances. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 54 percent of unwanted pregnancies in Pakistan result in abortion. About 696,000 Pakistani women were treated for abortion complications.
Besides poverty and illiteracy, Pakistan is known for religious cruelty and violence. A 2015 report found that Pakistani Muslims force as many as 700 Christian girls and 300 Hindu girls to convert to Islam every year, mostly in arranged marriages. Last year, a 17-year-old boy was beaten to death by his Muslim classmates for being a Christian. The Christian organization Open Doors ranked Pakistan the 5th worst country for Christian persecution worldwide.