Pakistan's television show "Amaan Ramazan," similar to U.S.'s "The Price is Right," has started giving away abandoned babies to childless couples in an effort to come out on top in the ratings war.
Last week, the show's host, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, handed over a baby girl to a couple during a primetime episode, according to The Mirror.com.
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"This girl was thrown on pile of garbage by somebody," Hussain told the studio audience. "See how beautiful and innocent she is."
The baby, considered the show's "jackpot prize," was given to Riaz-ud-din and his wife, who had struggled to conceive.
"These 14 years were full of hardships, people asked to go for second marriage but I remained patient and also asked my wife to be patient," the man said, with his wife calling the child a "Gift of Ramadan."
The babies came from the non-government organization Chhipa Welfare Association, a charity that rescues abandoned babies.
Many viewers were outraged by the baby giveaway, calling them "human prizes," according to CNN International.
"Pakistan wake up," Shamim Mahmood wrote on the Chhipa Welfare Association's Facebook page. "Babies are not trophies to be handed to just anyone."
Bina Shah, a writer in Karachi, where the show is based, told The Mirror that giving babies away for the sake of attracting viewers is atrocious.
"It speaks to the commercialization of everything, including religion,” Shah said. "Giving away a baby on television is the worst violation of media ethics I can think of."
Hussain defended himself, telling CNN International that giving a childless couple a child who would have gone parentless or died is a way to unite his nation.
"These are the disenfranchised babies that grow up to be street kids and used for suicide bombing attacks. We have tried to show an alternative," Hussain said. "Telling people to take these kids off the rubbish on the streets, raise them and make them a responsible citizen, not to destroy society through terrorism."
Adoption is not officially recognized in Pakistan, and there is no adoption law, but the couple will still have to apply for guardianship at a family court.
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