Is Pakistan’s game show a ploy for television ratings or an honest attempt at helping abandoned babies?
The prime-time television game show "Aman Ramazin," which has been compared to "The Price is Right," is giving away abandoned babies as prizes.
The show is broadcast live for seven hours a day during the month of Ramadan and the host, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, recently presented baby girls to two couples.
“I was really shocked at first. I couldn’t believe we were being given this baby girl,” said Suriya Bilquees, now a mother of a two-week old, according to CNN. “I was extremely happy.”
The host is known for mixing religion and entertainment, which is often met with controversy.
“At Christmas there’s Santa Claus to give everyone gifts, it’s important for Christians. For us Ramadan is a really special time so it’s really important to make people happy and reward them,” Hussein said.
"Aman Ramazan," which boasts a live studio audience of more than 500, gives away prizes for answering questions about the Quran. Prizes include microwaves, motorbikes, washing machines and fridges.
The baby girls given away on the show were found by an NGO, the Chhipa Welfare Association, which says it receives up to 15 abandoned babies a month.
“Our team finds babies abandoned on the street, in garbage bins — some of them dead, others mauled by animals. So why not ensure the baby is kept alive and getting a good home?” Ramzan Chhipa, who runs the organization, said to CNN. “We didn’t just give the baby away. We have our own vetting procedure. This couple was already registered with us and had four or five sessions with us.”
Even though the couple was registered for the organization, they were not aware they would be receiving a baby girl when they were invited to take part in the show. The proper paperwork had not been processed before the live broadcast.
According to CNN, adoption is not officially recognized in Pakistan and there are no adoption laws. The couple will have to apply for guardianship at a family court.
“These are disenfranchised babies that grow up to be street kids and used for suicide bombing attacks. We have tried to show an alternative,” Hussain said. “We’ve created a symbol of peace and love, that’s our show’s theme: to spread love. I’m setting an example, giving a childless couple an abandoned child.”
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