A Pakistani television show host boosted the ratings as well as drew flaks from critics by giving away free babies on air as gifts to couples.
TV presenter Aamir Liaquat Hussain, host of the game show 'Aman Ramazan' recently grabbed eyeballs when he rewarded two couples with two baby girls as prize like that of motorcycles, electronic goods and household items given away in the show to audience who give correct answers.
Even though the move drew widespread ire from the public, many calling it a ratings boost attempt, Hussain said otherwise.
"We've created a symbol of peace and love, that's our show's theme - to spread love. I'm setting an example. Giving a childless couple an abandoned child," CNN quoted the popular host, who has several controversies to his credit and well known for bringing religion into entertainment.
He went on to say, "At Christmas there's Santa Claus to give everyone gifts, it's important for Christians. For us Ramadan is a really special time so it's really important to make people happy and reward them."
The female babies given away were reportedly found by the NGO Chippa Welfare Association in the trashes.
Justifying the baby being given away as freebies, the Ngo founder Ramzan Chhipa said, "Our team finds babies abandoned on the street, in garbage bins - some of them dead, others mauled by animals. So why not ensure the baby is kept alive and gets a good home?". He also maintained that the babies were given only to couples after a thorough check of the records and backgrounds.
But there were adverse reactions to the open giving away of the babies as many considered such adoption process should be carried out in private because the social stigma attached to it. Another concern is that of the country's absence of adoption law which would entail the couples to formally apply for the custody of the baby to the authorities.
Seema Jamali, assistant director of child welfare for the Sindh province voiced her displeasure to BBC, "The baby was given away the same way as a gift. Though it was good to find parents for her, the baby was given like a car, laptop, or motorcycle. It's an insult to the baby and the parents. It should have been done quietly."
According to the live show officials, a baby boy will be given away to another couple on air in the coming weeks.