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When Daughters Don't Count: Social Media Prays Pakistani Cricketer Have a Son

Shahid Afridi scored the winning runs in the Asia Cup Match against India at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, Bangladesh. Image by Md. Manik. Copyright Demotix (2/3/2014)

Shahid Afridi scored the winning runs in the Asia Cup match against India at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, Bangladesh. Image by Md. Manik. Copyright Demotix (2/3/2014)

In many places of the world, especially on the Indian sub-continent, young girls often face discrimination even before they are born, and that treatment continues through childhood and into adulthood. The preference for male children can often lead to deadly measures like female foeticide. There are many signs of this preference for boys, like the story told in this post.

Pakistani cricket icon Shahid Afridi‘s recent stellar performance, which led to Pakistan's win against India and then Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, prompted his fans on social media pray for him. Why? They are praying for a baby boy for Shahid Afridi. Afridi, 34, is married with four daughters.

Pakistani cricketer Afridi with his four daughters

Pakistani cricketer Afridi with his four daughters. Image publicly shared by Meri Jan Pakistan's Facebook page

A recently uploaded photo shared by Facebook page “Meri Jan Pakistan” (My Love Pakistan) says (translated from Urdu):

Brother Shahid Afridi and his family wishes that Allah bless them with a male child. We should all pray that Allah rewards Shahid Afridi, who has provided all Pakistanis with jubilation and smiles in such terrible times, with a son. Say Amin and share this post. You never knows whose prayer come true.

The post has been shared by more than 1,750 people and has more than 5,700 likes and almost 1,300 comments at the time of this report.

Hira Ashar questioned the photo:

Did afridi said that …why people made such type of pix… Muhammed (pbuh) had 4 daughter.. And He was proud of them.. And plz don't make these kind of pix

Shoaib Mushtaq defended having daughters:

Has anyone thought about the fact that the reason why he has had so much success is via the blessings of his daughters … this thread might have been well intended but definitely not well thought through.

Newsweek Pakistan commented:

But the adoration of millions and a prime plot of land given by a real-estate mogul were not enough for some fans, who see a male child as the ultimate validation of Afridi’s accomplishments.

Parts of Pakistan remain rigidly patriarchal. In some areas only having daughters is not celebrated and at times, is not even disclosed in public. In some parts of the country, men recruit second wives just to have a male child. According to Sharia law, a son's property share is double that of a daughter's.

Gulalai Ismail, founder and chairperson of Aware Girls, an organization that supports gender equality and women's empowerment, shared the image and expressed her anger on her Facebook page:

Look at the Madness- have seen a variety of these pictures today!& they think they are doing a great job by spreading these pictures! such pictures should count as Hate Speech against Girls! The message in this picture is clearly “oh look at him, poor! he has only daughters, lets give him gift by praying for him that God give him son because these four beautiful girls make no sense but a son does make sense”. I wonder how much time it will take to cure this MADNESS!

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