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Rat Children Of Pakistan ‘Rats of Shah Dola’

These infants are subjected to artificial microcephaly.These children are called “Rats” or “Chuhas” (a term used by the locals) of the Shrine of Saint Shah Dolah in Gujrat region of Pakistan.

They have sloping foreheads, narrow faces which resemble rodents and are often intellectually disabled and dependent on others.

One prominent case of mistreatment of children is that of artificial microcephaly. A ritual in which a newborn’s head is locked in an iron mask to restrict the growth of skull, this savage act occurs in the Shrine of Saint Dolah located in Gujrat. The ritual is indicative of a wider reality in Pakistan:  the strong beliefs that people have in saints and their shrines. The peculiarity of the Saint Dolah Shrine is the age old tradition associated with it.

According to this tradition, a married couple having no luck with children comes to offer a sheet of flowers & prays at the Shrine of Saint Shah Dolah in hope of having a baby. If the couple is lucky, they have to pay a much bigger price. They have to give their first born to the administration of the Shrine as a gesture of gratitude. The parents are then not allowed to meet their baby; however, they get to keep their other children if the mother gives birth again.

They are made to wear a green cloak and are then dispersed on the streets around the Shrine. Having no education or other skill to earn a living, these children are forced to beg the visitors and local people for money. Along with this tradition comes a superstition that ignoring or rejecting these “Rat Children” for money brings bad luck, therefore people fill their bowls with coins and paper money. This money is later submitted to the administration of the shrine.

Criminal gangs have also followed this act of barbarity. They kidnap healthy children and create their own “Rat Children”. The children undergo the same heart wrenching act of deformity and are then forced into the beggary.

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