Karachi: Infanticide on the rise
KARACHI: The bodies of two newborn babies were given their final bath before they were buried in Karachi, after they were discovered in the city’s garbage dumps.
“They can only have been one or two days old,” said volunteer worker Muhammad Saleem, pointing at the two small corpses being gently washed by his colleagues at a charity’s morgue.
Infanticide, a crime in Pakistan is on the rise. More than 1,000 infants – most of them girls – were killed or abandoned to die in the country last year, according to conservative estimates by the Edhi Foundation.
The infanticide figures are collected only from the country’s main cities, leaving out huge swathes of the rural areas, and the charity says that in December alone, it found 40 dead babies left in garbage dumps and sewers.
The number of dead infants found last year – 1,210 – was up from 890 in 2008 and 999 in 2009, said Edhi Foundation Manager in Karachi, Anwar Kazmi.
Kazmi recounts the discovery of the burnt body of a six-day-old infant who had been strangled.
Another child was found on the steps of a mosque having been stoned to death on the orders of an imam who has since disappeared, he said.
“Do not murder, lay them here,” reads a sign hanging outside the charity’s Karachi base where it has left cradles in the hope that parents will abandon their unwanted children there, instead of leaving them to die.
“People leave these children mostly because they think they are illegitimate, but they are as innocent and loveable as all human beings,” says the charity’s founder, well-known humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi.
Most children found are less than a week old.