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Tag: Pakistan

The Rat Children of Pakistan

Hundreds of young children in Pakistan are being exploited because of an ancient fertility tradition that leaves many children deformed and sold into begging. Children born there with the Microcephaly disorder are known as the ‘rat’ children, and are given to the shrine of Shah Dola in the Punjabi city of Gujrat. They are considered as messengers of God according to a myth that began at the shrine hundreds of years ago.

According to the legend, a woman who’s unable to conceive will become fertile by offering prayers at the shrine, but at a price. The couple can expect their first-born to be microcephalic - a rat child with a tiny head, and it must be handed over to the shrine.

The shrine of Shah Dola stopped accepting the children in 1965 when the government took control of all shrines, but many criminal gangs and beggars keep the myth alive for their own profit. The value of the microcephalics is enormous and they are a lucrative source of income for beggars. It’s believed that healthy babies are then deliberately deformed so that they can then be sold for begging.

Watch the five minute documentary from below:

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