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War on Babies: Infanticide Increasing in Pakistan

Just days after she gave birth, Zaitoun says, her husband killed the child, their first, because she was a girl.

The infant’s fate wasn’t a surprise to Zaitoun, 26, who moved to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, from the rural northwest three years ago. Zaitoun (who asked that her last name not be used) has a round face and thick brown hair that she coils into a bun. Her marriage was arranged, she says, and her husband found her a job working as a nanny for a family in one of Karachi’s wealthy neighborhoods, where he works as a doorkeeper.  

When Zaitoun realized she was pregnant, she didn’t speak of it to her husband, knowing money was tight and that having a baby would likely mean she would lose her job. Her in-laws, whom Zaitoun did tell of her pregnancy, advised her to pray that it wouldn’t be a girl. Two days after her daughter was born, Zaitoun says, she woke up to find the baby gone. That afternoon, when her husband returned home for lunch, she asked him what had happened. “I took care of it,” he said.

A few days later, she says she saw an ambulance crew pick up a tiny corpse from a trash dump outside her apartment building. In the six months she had been living in Haryana Colony, a squatters’ settlement where some of Karachi’s poorest families live, Zaitoun saw three other dead babies removed the same way, she says. . .