The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is traditionally an extremely difficult time for television networks in Muslim-heavy countries. During the month, some devout Muslims give up all television and even Muslims that can watch television are generally too busy with other Ramadan activities to do so. The annual television ratings collapse during Ramadan has led to one Pakistani talk show taking drastic measures to encourage viewership. That’s why Pakistani prime-time television host, Aamir Liaqaut Hussain has begun to offer abandoned Pakistani babies to wanting parents live on his show.
The free babies are merely one of several prizes that Hussain has offered viewers during the Ramadan season. Along with the orphan babies, Hussain has dealt motorcycles, home-theatre systems, laptop computers, and kitchen appliances to those watching the show during Ramadan. However, there’s a slight difference between giving away a Big-screen TV, and giving away a baby.
The baby giveaway is undeniably an attempt to boost ratings during Ramadan, but Hussain claims that the baby giveaway is rooted in love and claims that the babies are intended to, “rub the wounds” of Pakistan families unable to have children of their own.
Two babies have already been given away on the Pakistani television show. Last week, Hussain showed an orphaned baby girl to the show audience. He said, “'This is the beautiful girl who was thrown on a pile of garbage by somebody. See how beautiful and innocent she is”. The baby girl was soon gifted to a Pakistani family on stage.
Baby abandonment is common in Pakistan, and other conservative Muslim nations where women who give birth out of wedlock are condemned and punished. Women who give birth to these babies are often given no choice but to abandon their babies, or face the social and political punishment for their actions.
In fairness to the program, the baby giveaway is endorsed and aided by a Pakistani adoption agency. New parents must first pass the same screening process as any other Pakistani family looking to adopt.
What do you think? Is it fair game to make adoptions such a public event? Or is the Pakistani television show going too far in a pursuit of a ratings bump during Ramadan?