In common practice, families in Punjab disown their daughters and it is even more common for parents to leave their female offspring at the doorsteps of centres like Edhi, Kashana, and the provincial Child Protection Bureau for the want of a son.
An official of the Child Protection Bureau narrated that a few months ago, a newborn baby girl was handed over to the bureau from a government hospital in Lahore.
“The mother who gave birth to the baby had left her in the hospital, the reason being that she already had three daughters and her in-laws threatened to evict her if she had another daughter,” the official informed on the condition of anonymity.
According to the provincial bureau, the bureau currently has nine such newborn baby girls in their custody. Hafza Latif, who also lives in the centre, was left here by her mother as she could not spend money on her education or upbringing. “I was four years old when my father died. Now my brother and mother live together but they left me here over a year ago,” she said.
“I only get to see them on Eid days,” a distraught Hafza said as tears rolled down her cheeks. Unlike Hafza, Mahim has become numb to grief as she has been in the centre for three years now. Mahim, who is in the eighth grade, is content with her life for now and hopes to become a gynaecologist one day.
“My sister and I get food and shelter over here which our family refuses to provide for us. My plan is to live here until I can start earning,” Mahim said while putting up a brave face. The 12-year-old, Mahim, was left at Kashana Markaz along with her younger sister by their father, as per the media portal.
“She wants to join the Pakistan Army one day and I will make sure she does,” Kashana’s social welfare officer, Saima Rafique said. When asked how does the Kashana Markaz deal with the psychological problems the young girls go through, Saima stated, “We realize that being left by their families has an impact on their mental health and affects their personality and therefore, we bring in psychologists to counsel them and help them adjust at the centre so that they can forget their troubled past.”