Murdering a baby

Published: February 24, 2013

Rattles violently a metallic garbage drum; Fruit peels, dirty rags and plastic bags are cast forth by the drum. In an undulating row, line up five ballooned bags. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

On a cold afternoon, reading the news item about female foetuses found in a garbage drum, I cringed with horror and pain.

It’s too late though; no one can do anything about these innocent victims now. These girls could have grown up to be beautiful women who could have shouldered the pain and responsibilities of their parents. If only they were given a chance.

Deemed as burden before their birth, they were aborted and thrown out into the trash.

A female child does not saddle her parents with misery or affliction; she is a joy for the soul. If only ignorant people could understand this.

The following lines have been written as an attempt to try depict the horror of murdering an innocent baby and then discarding it in a garbage dump.

Cold rain falls in slanting sheets.
Overflowing with water, drains spew
putrid water and vile contents.

Rattles violently a metallic garbage drum;
Fruit peels, dirty rags and plastic bags
are cast forth and in an undulating
row, line up five ballooned bags.

A black spotted cat sniffs them and
shreds the polythene to stop its flow
downwards. Staring vacantly at rotten
flesh, it gnaws at it under the black rain.

The bags keep journeying in the fetid water.
Any water is good- to seek nourishment
to cling to life and to taste love.

The rotting babies once curled up within
a warm womb, remain unfazed by the darkness.
Regarded as purposeless and worthless,
someone dug them out of the circle of life.

Reconciled to their fate of plastic shroud
and water burial, foetuses- discarded, wasted,
and otiose- keep floating in the cold water.

Read more by Sameera here.

Sameera Rashid

Sameera Rashid

A research analyst, blogger and a graduate of King's College, London, in public policy.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Arslan Muhammad

    CRUEL!! !
    Our nation is just becoming soulless day by day. For the sake of a night’s pleasure, they give birth to soul and and throw it away like this. I personally have seen a number of families who consider it a curse if they give birth to a baby girl. No matter how “Molvi” and so called “Parhezgar” they are if front of everyone, when it comes to girls, they are just out of their minds.
    Killing is a killing anyway. No matter you call it an abortion or just waste your child like this.
    People who do this should be hanged in front of everyone!! !
    For a moment, even if we forget about the rest, I don’t know how a parent can even imagine of killing his own child.. .Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    Castration and a hysterectomy followed by a good ‘ol beating would work wonders here.Recommend

  • gp65

    “A female child does not saddle her parents with misery or affliction; she is a joy for the soul. If only ignorant people could understand this.”

    Well first of all I am as disgusted by female foeticide as you are. However you are the one who appears naive. The people who think a female child is a joy for the soul (as I am sure parents and mine did) are not the ones doing this horrendous crime. The ones who indulge in female foeticide do so because
    1) they know they do not have economic wherewithal to support an unlimited number of kids
    2) They want a son rather than daughter for a large number of socioeconomic reasons.

    It is you who needs to understand their plight and the socioeconomic reasons forcing these people onto such awful choices. The root causes of son preference need to be understood and addressed. Being condescending and pretending that lack of understanding on what a joy a girl child is leads them to female foeticide will not change the situation on ground as you will have no credibility with the people you are trying to influence.Recommend

  • Parvez

    In our society today the understanding that a girl is more likely to strive and make something out of her life and also be a help to her parents, is slowly dawning. Many TV plays have this theme and a process has begun, lets hope it is sustained.Recommend

  • Sameera


    I understand your arguments. As I see, geography of South Asia and East Asia , with large river basins and agricultural plains, have always been dependent on male hands to tend fields and manage land.This in turn gave rise to patriarchal tradition of preferring male over female.
    Therefore, desire for son preference is influenced by traditions too; and socio-economic reasons do not always play a role in female foeticide. After all, in our societies, richer parents desire to have a son too.
    Moreover, I used ‘joy’ as a metaphor as this piece is not a social critique of female foeticide.Thanks for your observations.Recommend

  • Faryal

    Yes, well written but this shouldn’t be done. It is just wrong and selfish. Just imagine how people feel! They feel so broken when this happens so this is just horrid.Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK


    …and absolutely none of that makes the practice of female foeticide any less abhorrent.

    Obviously the socioeconomic reasons here need to be addressed, but that is a long term solution. Meanwhile, we cannot pretend that the public has diminished or no responsibility in keeping the gender-ratio from getting skewed. Our condemnation is certainly required.

    Having said that, I did wince at the author’s emotional outburst about dead fetuses. I support a woman’s right to abortion. A fetus is not the same as a human baby. Otherwise, I might have eaten a scrambled “chick” for breakfast.Recommend

  • Owais

    Female foeticide and infanticide would emerge as a big issue in coming years. China and India have surplus men. It is pathetic.Recommend

  • H. Z. Fatima

    No doubt, its a very sensitive and notable issue raised by Sameera sahiba. If we look generally, this matter seems immoral but being a Muslim, the murder of female babies is more shameful. Our religion (Islam) teaches us to respect women and our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said, “how a woman lucky, who is blessed with a female baby as a first child”.
    May Allah bless us with a sense to value of moralities, particularly, to follow Islam.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Loneliberal PK: “…and absolutely none of that makes the practice of female foeticide any less abhorrent.”

    Of course it does not. I find it horrific too and have made no attempt justify it. But lecturing people who indulge in it will not change the ground reality. What will change it is understanding the socioeconomic reality that leads to such choices and changing it. Separately government also has to punish doctors and couples who are found to be indulging in this. Thre are laws (at least in India) that make this illegal. They are just not implemented.

    @Author: Thanks for your response. There is a reason I said socioeconomic reasons rather than simply economic reasons since as you pointed out many well to do people also indulge in this horrific crime due to social reasons (those that you refer to as traditions). Such reasons need to be understood and addressed.Recommend

  • Milind

    @gp65 – While you have a point .. you’re being unnecessarily harsh with the author’s statement…written with good, honest intent & probably a burning conviction…

    The author could have stated “rediscovering the hidden joy of the female child” implying that the joy has been overshadowed by narrow prejudices, short-sighted gains etc.

    Anyway its a sad and depressing part of life…Recommend

  • naureen

    our society is still very primitive and we see no signs of intellectual progress. there is no discourse on violence, discrimination, malnourishment, abuse, harassment against the women at all stages from foetus to women hood. there is lack of access to health services, education and employment to women. it is not surprising that such painful and heart wrenching incident are taking place in this region. sex selection in pregnancies are openly advertised; which actually means female foetus can be unselected. from my personal experience many people try to sympathize with me that i have only girls, what business do they have if i gave birth to girls or boys? n many times i have actually unbundled this myth of boy preferences to them. i dont think causes are purely economic or socialRecommend

  • Aneeqa Chaudhary

    although feticide is illegal, its still very very common in our country. and reasons are not just as simple as preference of baby boy over girl. its a very complicated sort of issue I think… so many reasons like unwanted pregnancies, financial failures to grow up more children, birth defects, and other grave reasons like pregnancies resulting from rape and extra marital relationships contribute to this inhuman act…
    Miss Sameera has drawn a real picture of this horrible reality where a tiny human being is murdered so easily as if it is something nonhuman and is then left in the garbage for wild animals to have a tasty meal…
    But. how hypocrite this fact is, that we pity over them when they are lying in garbage but not when we look at so many ‘safa khanas’ in our own cities. we should be aware of such ‘dai’ centers and they should be strictly taken into notice.
    I appreciate author’s efforts and interests to bring this issue into lightRecommend

  • salar

    a moving advocacy of a cause often lost in our enthusiasm political stuff Recommend

  • Na

    a cruel fact ignored in our societyRecommend

  • Fizza Rafique

    This is just so depressing! How do they even think about ‘throwing’ the angelic creature away, like it had no worth?! This issue definitely needs to be raised.Recommend

  • Dangermouse

    The article on Indians issue is that for the next twenty years there sons won’t find women as they have killed them at birth.Recommend

  • Iknowright!!

    A few weeks ago, a boy in my class turned around and asked me,
    “Tum larkiyon ko sports khelna atta nahi hai to kyon khailte ho?”
    I was having a bad mood and retorted.
    “Jab tumhe dimaagh chalana aata nahi hai to kyon chalate ho?”
    And you know what he said?
    “Jao roti pakao!” People think that boy’s are so much better than girls. But sometimes it’s the boy’s who have it harder. They usually get beat up or bullied. They can’t wear pink without being teased. They have the huge responsibility of going out and earning or hearing the insults of their relatives. AND then they end up making the wrong decisions because of peer pressure. I support your views on female foeticide. Recommend