Infanticide in Pakistan on the rise
Summary of story from CNN, July 20, 2011
The killing of infants in Pakistan is on the rise, according to the relief agency Edhi Foundation, and roughly 90 per cent of those killed are girls. Last year 1,200 newborns were killed and dumped in Pakistan – an increase of about 200 from the previous year.
“Sometimes they hang them and sometimes they kill by the knife, and sometimes we find bodies which have been burned,” said Anwar Kazmi, a manager at Edhi Foundation, Pakistan’s largest privately run social service and relief agency.
The head of Edhi Foundation, 83-year-old Abdul Sattar Edhi, said he blames Pakistan’s crippling poverty and a government that, for decades, has failed to educate the masses, generate jobs or provide citizens with the most basic needs.
“The distribution of resources by the government is wrong,” Edhi said. “Many people don’t pay taxes; there’s no charity, and what you get from the government is all based on your wealth.”
The killing of newborns gets little attention in Pakistan, and rarely are they investigated by a police force that’s often poorly trained, lacks resources and stays focused on what’s perceived to be more important crimes.
In many parts of the world, female infanticide is still practised through direct violence but also by intentional neglect, according to the World Health Organization. Families may consider girls too costly to keep in a country where women frequently are not allowed to work.
In some Asian countries, infanticide of girls is enough to skew the population figures in favour of males. The United Nations found, for example, that there are 130 boys to 100 girls in parts of Asia, especially in countries with extreme poverty and overpopulation such as China and India.
“Girls are seen as a burden, seen as a property which belongs to somebody else so people see that as a waste of money and the wasting of an education of a girl,” said Bhagyashri Dengle, executive director of Plan India, a nonprofit for children.
“Then when the girl gets married, the families have a big heavy dowry. So that is one of the reasons here.”
Dengle said awareness and education at the grass-roots level are ways to combat this practice.
“I think we really need to reach out to young people (to) create an awareness, to change attitudes and dispel the notion that having a boy is better than a girl,” she said.
“We launched this programme ‘Let Girls Be Born’ – that campaign is reaching out to masses using televisions, through newspapers and through (the) Internet. What we are trying to do is positive messaging on the girls. That girls aren’t a sect – they are as good as boys.”