Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Abandoned, Aborted, or Left for Dead: These Are the Vanishing Girls of Pakistan - The Atlantic

International - Habiba Nosheen & Hilke Schellmann - Abandoned, Aborted, or Left for Dead: These Are the Vanishing Girls of Pakistan - The Atlantic:

"The doctors clean the baby, wrap her in a blanket, and take her to the nursery, where families usually gather to see their child for the first time. An hour later, a large group comes here to celebrate the birth of a boy. A few cribs away, the newborn girl lays crying. The doctor explains that no one has yet come to see her because the family is still in mourning."The mother is upset, it's the second daughter, they expected a son," Ain-ul-Ghazala says, "The mother was crying, it was quite upsetting."
Her reaction is hardly unusual here, "It's still a bad thing to have girls," Zafar explains.
Still, she says she's not too worried about the family's reaction. She's used to it. In a few days, she predicts, the family will come to terms with the birth of their daughter and learn to love her.
But families who walk out of clinics like Race View don't always come to terms with the birth of their daughter. Bilquis Edhi, a 64-year-old woman we spoke to who runs an orphanage in Karachi, has seen proof of that first hand.
Along with her husband, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Bilquis runs their orphanage in the bustling Saddar Town neighborhood, and a quick glance at the shelter makes clear that it's mostly girls who get left here.
"Since the beginning, more girls come here than boys," she says. "I think people don't like to give boys away."
These girls are often the lucky ones.
At the entrance of the orphanage is a silver-framed crib, where parents can leave unwanted children, no questions asked. Above it, an Urdu poster reads, "Don't kill the baby, leave the baby alive in the cradle."
Edhi says she sometimes finds dead baby girls in the crib in front of the shelter. She suspects that families worry that, if they leave their daughter alive, someone will come looking for them to ask why they abandoned the child, or even ask them to take her back.
She pulls out a photo of a baby girl that had been left in the crib recently. "Look, they have burned her to death," she says. The photo shows a newborn, its umbilical cord still attached, whose tiny body is fully blackened."

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