In the photo above, a once childless Pakistani couple kiss their newly adopted daughter Fatima in Karachi on August 1. As you can see, the pair look happy to have received their new child.
But not everyone is happy that they have. It’s not anything to do with the couple themselves, it’s the manner in which they got the baby — they won him on a talk show.
In what Reuters describes as a “ruthless quest for ratings,” the host of the Geo TV channel program “Amaan Ramazan,” Aamir Liaquat Hussain, has given away two abandoned children to childless families in the last month. He intends to give away another boy this week.
CNN says the show has been described as “Pakistan’s version of The Price Is Right,” where members of the audience receive prizes in exchange for answering questions about the Quran. The show, due to run during the holy month of Ramadan, is breaking viewing records in the country and may well be extended.
Technically, there’s no law against giving the babies away as prizes. Pakistan has no official adoption law, and the new parents will still have to apply for guardianship at a family court, CNN reports. The babies were provided by an NGO, and, despite not knowing before hand if they would “win” a baby, the couples chosen were reportedly pre-screened and have reportedly had “four or five” sessions at the NGO.
Hussain and the NGO argue that this is the best outcome for the infants. “If we didn’t find this baby, a cat or a dog would have eaten it,” Hussain reportedly said as he gave away one baby.
Even so, it’s a move that’s provoked controversy given that the show usually gives out motorbikes, mobile phones, and land deeds, according to Reuters. On the Facebook page of the NGO, commenters are expressing outrage about the practice. “What stupidity,” one Facebook user writes, “giving away children like gifts…”
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