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Kashmir’s abandoned babies hit the headlines again

| Updated: July 23, 2021 16:07

Late marriages and the lower status of girl children contribute to the problem, say experts

On June 20, the two-minute video of famous Kashmiri Singer Ishfaq Kawa stormed the Internet. In the video, Kawa narrated the incident, filmed by his friend.  

“We were walking on the banks of the Jhelum when we noticed something unusual. It turned out to be a newborn baby girl floating in the water. I am really disappointed; we are digging a grave for her and will bury her now,” Kawa can be heard saying. 

Kawa’s emotional video stirred up a new discussion around Kashmir’s abandoned babies. “The main reason is late marriage,” one netizen commented, adding, “Young adults having sex before marriage also conceive as they are too shy to ask for contraceptives.” In Kashmir, a highly conservative society, talking about sex is a taboo. 

Another Facebook user commented, “Due to unwanted and irrelevant customs, our marriages are getting expensive and the results are obvious.”

Many experts are of the opinion that Kashmir is getting back to the dark ages when baby girls were killed soon after their birth. Pervez Ahmad, assistant professor in the Higher Education department of Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the father of a baby girl, told Virago Media that the issue is not unwed pregnancies.

“It is about our mindset; how we treat the other gender,” explains Ahmed, adding, “It is a pattern and shows how women/girls are considered second class citizens in this part of the world.”

Two years ago, massive outrage was witnessed in Srinagar when a newborn duo was abandoned.  The infants were later adopted by an unknown couple. Babies who are abandoned are taken to Srinagar’s Govind Ballabh Pant Children Hospital. At the Nutrition and Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), they are taken care of by ward nurses.

“Once the childless couples finish their legal formalities, we hand over the babies to them,” explains a doctor at the hospital, requesting anonymity. “A team keeps a regular check on their upbringing and other requirements.” 

But the religious issue again pops up. According to Islamic Shariah, adopted children can’t claim any property rights. “Yes, they can’t.” says Zahoor Qasmi, the top cleric of Kashmir’s famous seminary – Darul-uloom-Raheemiyah – known for issuing decrees. 

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