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Who in Pakistan has not seen a â€˜Rat of Shah Daulaâ€™?
A Sufi saint of Suhrawardi School, during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb (17th century), Pir Shah Daula in Gujrat, is said to have the power to punish disobedient parents in the shape of children with small heads (Microencephaly). These children, who then serve at the shrine, are called â€œRats of Shah Daulaâ€.
Thousands of worshipers, especially barren women desiring children, come to the saintâ€™s grave invoking his blessings for the fulfillment of their wishes. Some choose to show their respect by dancing wildly in a state of ecstasy. The first born is called the "Rat of Shah Daula" and is offered to work as a servant at the shrine.
In fact, the shrine guardians don the heads of these perfectly healthy, innocent children with steel helmets or rings to restrict their growth! No wonder, these children suffer severe mental retardation and physical handicaps.
People are so superstitious according to a centuries-old tradition, that barren women who worship at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Daula, hope to surely become fertile. They are told that unless they donate their first-born child to the shrine, all their subsequent children will be born disabled.
The horrible tradition has been used as the foundation for a trade in the donated children, who after deliberate disfigurement, are sold to professional beggars by the shrine's guardians, although the shrine is now controlled by the government of Pakistan. No one even knows what else they make people do in the name of religion! But sexual abuse has been frequently reported. There are at least 10,000 of these people, most of them in the Punjab province and the city of Gujrat. [Shabbir thinks the number is grossly under-reported. They could be close to 40,000 at this time. He has seen so many of them in different towns.]
Reference: Galpin, Richard. "The Rat-Children of Pakistan: Blessed by a Sufi Saint but Disfigured for Profit," The Guardian [London] 20 June 1998.
See some awful pictures in this link:
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