Congratulations, You’ve Won…A Baby?!

A Pakistani television show is causing controversy all over the world by giving away prizes that include cell phones, air conditioners, motorcycles, and babies. Two babies have already been given away and the show plans to give away another child.

The show is one of Pakistan’s leading TV shows, called Aalim Aur Aalam, hosted by Aamir Liaquat Hussain, a former parliamentarian and minister of state for religious affairs. Back in 2005 it was uncovered that he lied about his Masters and Doctorate Degrees, but today he is a beloved host whose show airs for more than ten hours during Ramadan and features celebrity interviews and games.

Hussain insists that these children are given away, in the name of Islam, to good families on a “merit basis” and not solely based on answering a question correctly.  The children that have been given away so far have come from the Chhipa Welfare Association, a nongovernmental organization that receives and finds a dozen abandoned babies each month. Hussain stated that if the Association did not find these children, “a cat or dog would have eaten [them].” Many believe that the show, which already has very high ratings, is only giving away children to boost these ratings.

In Pakistan, there are no laws governing adoption, instead the chosen parents must only apply for guardianship in family court. This differs drastically from the process most countries, like the United States, require  families to go through in order to adopt a child.

I was initially shocked when I saw this story on TV but then realized that it isn’t too far from some of the crazy stuff we see on TV in the United States. We all know how desperate broadcasting companies can get in order to boost their ratings. What I was more concerned about was the process Hussain, his show producers and the Chhipa Welfare Association have in place to ensure that these children are actually going to good homes. How closely are these families looked into? I got the impression from Hussain’s comments that they believe these children are lucky to be given away as prizes instead of dying on the streets. I agree that saving these babies is crucial but it is also important to ensure that they are actually going to loving families who can care for them. What do you think about this show and its prizes?

Source: PakTribune, The Washington Post , CBS News

Photo source: Yahoo

3 comments

  1. When reading the headline of this blog post, my initial gut reaction is that something feels very wrong about what is going on in Pakistan on this game show. Giving babies away as “prizes” seems wrong on a number of levels. However, when considering what the fate of these poor abandoned babies would be otherwise, ending up with an “interviewed”, “merit-based” family isn’t really so bad. Unfortunately, in a country like Pakistan with lax adoption laws, the screening process of adopting families may not be too scrutinizing, or really screen anything at all. However, even if the host of this game show who has questionable character and is simply conducting this good faith exploit for ratings, at least a few babies will end up with a family then in a much more potentially disparaging situation. There needs to be more organizations like the Chhipa Welfare Association that are saving babies lives every month.

  2. As Ms. Campbell and Mr. Goldstein previously mentioned above, when I first saw the title of this article I was concerned about the very idea of giving away children as “prizes” on a game show. While I completely agree with the work being done by the Chhipa Welfare Association in terms of saving children who may have otherwise died, I am still rather concerned about the process. While it is mentioned that the children are not given away simply by answering a question, I absolutely do not trust that a thorough evaluation process in place. I suppose that with these subpar laws and lax regulations in place, the game show and its producers cannot be completely at fault as they are working within the framework of their laws. However, the government should be responsible for implementing a more rigid application process to ensure that these children end up in safe hands.

  3. When I first read this article I was shocked by the way babies can be obtained so easily in other countries. To win a child as a prize is outrageous. A baby is something special and it takes special kinds of people to be parents. There are people in the United States who are doing all they can to have a child. Many couples go for infertility treatments which costs a lot of money. The parents who cannot have children then look to adoption. People in the United States who want to adopt children spend a lot of money for babies from other countries. The babies who are orphans and ready for adoption in the United States are worth so expensive that people look to other countries like China for adoption. I agree that it is good that these babies are at least getting a home, but it is not always the best thing because maybe the prize winners do not want children. No background checks are conducted on the families that win the babies which is a scary thought because no one knows if the people are fit to be parents.

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