The death of a four-year-old girl, due to lack of proper medical treatment, in a densely populated slum in Karachi, has neither noticed nor raised any concern either among public or policy makers on essentially preventable deaths of girl child in this part of the world.

It is a clear fact that despite the introduction of international and local legislation and awareness raising campaigns; girls are extremely neglected in many Asian and South Asian Societies, such as Pakistan.

Sanam Siddiqui, a women rights activist and student at a local university, observed that female children are especially subjected to numerous forms of exploitation and discrimination due to an inherent bias against women in this part of the globe. She further refereed many surveys, studies and researches clearly mentioned that low level healthcare and literacy rates are few examples of female neglect in Pakistani society.

Farhan Ahmed, staff member of a child-focused NGO, informed that neglect of girl child is socially acceptable in many places around the globe; however, poverty, illiteracy, caste system, lack of economic opportunities and weak implementation of legal instruments are some of the factors in growing neglect of girl child in poor and developing countries. He observed that it is a fact that male children are more desired and privileged thanfemale in those societies, where male domination is routine rather than exceptional.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan have signed and ratified a number of international protocols and treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Convention clearly stated that States Parties shall respect and ensure … rights … to each child … without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion.

Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed works with an International NGO in Karachi, Pakistan. He informed that he has been working on health issues for more than fifteen years and he observed that girls are considered as a liability in many families, especially those belong to the poor strata of the society. He added that, therefore, girl child mortality rate is higher than male child mortality rate in Pakistan. Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed said that both government and non-government organizations are failed to tackle the issue of female child neglect as historically and traditionally this part of the globe has been a patriarchal society, where girls always considered inferior to boys.

The Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Pakistan has revealed in its 2009 Annual Report that, “from the time of conception till her adolescence she (the girl child) remains under threat…Often girl children are sold, bartered and given as compensation to resolve family and tribal feuds. Girls are also given as “blood-money” to settle crimes such as murder, and are exploited sexually and physically. A huge number of girl children are living under threat and need help.”

Muhammad Ali, President of a Karachi based Roshni Helpline, informed that issues related to child abuse and neglect are quite common, with some exceptions, all around the globe. He, however, added that some issues such as neglect of female child are quite visible in poor and developing countries such as Pakistan. Muhammad Ali said that the issues of violence against female children are quite common; however, the reporting of such mode of violence is very low.

Mehnaz Sami, a housewife and mother of three girls and a boy, admitted that she often punished her daughters very severely but never even said any harsh word to her son. “I just want to discipline them as one day they will leave my house for ever and therefore they must know that girls/women should be submissive and disciplined,” Mehnaz Sami explained the reason of her harsh attitude towards her daughters.

Nasreen Gil runs a small charity school in a slum in Karachi. She observed that the dropout rate of girls are quite high in her school, especially after passing the fifth grade. Nasreen Gil informed that she met with the mothers of many dropout students and majority of them responded that, “our financial resources are very limited and therefore we cannot afford her education expenses.” It is pertinent to mention that in poor communities, parents only spend money on the studies of their son/s because they expect some return from them.

The Beijing Declaration under paragraph # 9 and 23 stated that, “We are determined to … ensure the human rights of … the girl child as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms….; … ensure the full enjoyment by … the girl child of all human rights … and take effective action against violations of these rights….”

Advocate Ashraf Suleiman informed that there is a considerable improvement in the status of women and children in Pakistan. He observed that the country has signed and ratified many UN and international protocols and conventions for the protection of women and child rights. Furthermore, specific domestic legislation has also been introduced with a view to provide protection to vulnerable sections of the society. He, however, pointed out that improvement in implementation mechanism is absolutely necessary to achieve desired results. Advocate Ashraf Suleiman also suggested allocation of appropriate resources and capacity building of concerned officials as required steps in this regard.

It seems necessary that government and non-government organizations must investigate and understand the reasons of marginalization and neglect, the girl child is facing in Pakistan. The GOs and NGOs must cooperate with each other to find ways and means to resolve and minimize the level of discrimination and neglect. It is pertinent to mention that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides clear guidelines to improve the situation. Therefore, proper implementation of UN CRC, in letter and spirit, can help improving the situation.


The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

About the Author:
Mr. Amir Murtaza is a writer and researcher; he can be reached at

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-044-2011
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 28-09-2011