Sunday, October 24, 2004

More Unwanted Girls

This time in Pakistan:

--Police found the newborn girl, known only to the world as Shazia, in a garbage pile outside the capital city. She had spent at least 12 hous exposed to the elements.
She was rushed to the Edhi Foundation, a nationwide organization working with Pakistan's poverty stricken populace, but quickly succumbed to pneumonia. Three days later Shazia died.

That was in April. But according to Naem Tarer, administrator of the Edhi Foundation in Islamabad, it could have been any day of any month.
"For every baby that survives, two more die . . . and those are the babies that are found," she says.
There are no studies available on the number of children abandoned annually in Pakistan but Edhi personnel are involved in the recovery of an average of 1,500 babies a year through the foundation's "jhoola baby" (cradle baby) program. Thousands more, they fear, are simply never found.
Of the babies recovered, an overwhelming majority--80 percent--are female.

The reasons are by now familiar ones: a society which expects sons to take care of their parents in old age, a society which expects women not to work outside the home, a society which expects daughters to be married off with expensive dowries. All these reasons make the birth of a baby girl something to weep over, understandably. But what should also be wept over is the fact that none of these reasons are difficult to change. If the desire to change them exists.

The article also suggests that in many cases baby girls are not exposed because of poverty and hardship but simply because of the lower value of daughters combined with the new emphasis on smaller families.