Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Warning: This article contains explicit information.
Adultery is often punished by vigilantism where family exact revenge against couples, often murderously. The children and mothers more often are targeted.
Nurse Razia Zulfikar of a maternity hospital in Gujranwala, Pakistan states that hundreds of children are killed simply by reason of the status of having unwed parents; a social taboo of society. The law provides a potential capital criminal offense stemming from pre-marital intercourse.
An eight-month pregnant girl came to us just a few days ago. We didn’t want to admit her to our hospital. After repeated requests from her family, we finally agreed to treat her. But we told the family explicitly that we would not kill the child,” Zulfikar told DW. “We gave the baby to the girl’s family. Only she and her family know what they did to the newborn, and how they killed him,” she added
A Pakistani welfare organization known as the Edhi Foundation estimated that 1,100 children were murdered and dumped into garbage bins last year. The figure is likely much higher as cases were tabulated only within large cities and not rural areas. Anwar Kazmi, a manager within the organization, describes the atrocities he and members of his charity have witnessed:
“A six-day-old child was burnt to death. We also found the corpses of babies who had been hanged, or who had been partly eaten by animals,” Anwar Kazmi, a manager at the Edhi Foundation, told DW.
“I can never forget one incident. A woman left a child in front of a mosque hoping that somebody would adopt him. But the cleric of the mosque ordered the people to stone the child to death. I saw the mutilated and torn body of the child myself,” he recalled
To address this painful issue, the Edhi Foundation began the Jhoola Project (meaning Cradle in Urdu) which encourages individuals to bring unwanted children and place them within cradles at foundation offices. This happens more often during the late hours and promises anonymous placement without fear of retribution against the mother or the child.
Edhi Foundation maintains over three hundred branches throughout the country.
Abortions are illegal in Pakistan with the exception of medical necessity to prevent harm to the mother. However this exception does not apply to unmarried women, leaving the mother to face persecution and perhaps the ultimately the murder of her child.
The murder of an infant in Pakistan is still a crime, but this unfortunately is not a deterrent to some who place their morals above the law.
By Darren Smith
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