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Pakistani Game Show Giving Away Babies as Prizes

Pakistan scavenger boys collect recyclable items from garbage to a earn living for their families in Islamabad, Pakistan / AP
• August 9, 2013 11:03 am

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Pakistan has been airing a "Price is Right" style television game show in which the grand prize is a newborn baby, according to reports.

The show, titled "Gift From God," is hosted by Pakistani celebrity Aamir Liaquat Hussain. The show aired "seven hours a day" during the holiday of Ramadan "and the grand prize is a newborn baby," according to a report that first appeared in Italy’s Il Giornale.

These children are "abandoned children that are condemned to grow up in the street, only to be enlisted by terrorists and to end their days as suicide bombers. We offer them an alternative. What is wrong with that?" Hussain was quoted as saying about the show.

"Win and take home a small child," Il Giornale reported in an article later translated into English by the Gatestone Institute.

The newborns featured as prizes on the television show "are often found in the trash and already gnawed on by dogs," according to the report.

Pakistan is one of the United States’ central allies in the region despite its open support for the Taliban and other insurgents.

Fiamma Nirenstein, a journalist and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe, writes that host Hussain "hands the children as if they are objects, prostituting them for the audience, and placing them in the arms of unknown customers."

While child poverty is a central issue in Asia and across the Middle East, the "Gift From God" show is not providing a viable solution, Nirenstein writes.

"The society to which he belongs tosses 1,200,000 children into the streets," she writes. "You see them wander around searching for leftovers in the heaps of trash; come across them as they work, pushing overloaded carts by hand 15 hours a day; prostituting themselves, or when they try sell contraband goods."

"You see them with their eyes eaten by flies or brought to the ground by AIDS and they tell you that for years they have not known where their mother is," according to Nirenstein.

There is also a chance that the show’s winners could abuse the child prizes.

"The people to whom he gives them, might, for all we know, have answered a quiz on television, to the sound of drums; but could, in turn, exploit them just as horrendously as others might," Nirenstein writes. "Turning these children into gifts, treated as objects—slaves, really—is just as dehumanizing as the terrible alternatives from which they are supposedly being rescued."

Published under: Middle East, Pakistan