Animals, Humans and Morality

They say that the main difference between humans and animals is morality and common sense.

Animals aren’t burdened with the consequences of acting on impulses and urges- it’s us humans who have to reflect and make choices.

I read in an article that in the animal kingdom, some mothers, “through no lack of love, will reject or abandon their offspring shortly after birth. There are a number of reasons why this happens and great variations between domestic and wild animals. Some large mammals will reject the second or ‘insurance’ infant simply because they do not have the means to nurse it.

If an infant is weak, small or defective, mothers will instinctively abandon or cull the animal to concentrate their resources on the stronger babies that stand a greater chance of surviving.

If a cat has a large litter, nursing all its kittens can sometimes be too much strain for the mother, especially if she is in poor health or is reluctant or unprepared for motherhood. Female cats that are not given the correct nutrition during pregnancy or are underweight might not be able to produce the milk necessary to feed their young.”

Ask yourselves this, what is the difference between a street cat and a mother from the marginalised interiors of Baluchistan? 

I saw several cases like this while on assignment for MSF Pakistan documenting stories of malnutrition. Helpless mothers, sitting for weeks on a hospital bed, feeding their children special food. Excessive poverty, lack of education, unemployment and large families force them to also naturally select which child to let go of and which to keep on feeding. 


The child in the photo is Gul Jaan. He was there for about two weeks being treated for severe malnutrition at the MSF Facility in Dera Murad Jamali. The mother, Rubina, said he is her 8th child out of the 12 pregnancies she has had. Her husband is unemployed and can’t walk properly. They live off loans and ration from neighbours. Every child of hers, according to her, is weak. Rubina looked worn out. Gul Jaan wasn’t gaining weight. The doctors began suspecting other health issues in addition to the malnurtition. It looked like she was tired of even trying to keep Gul Jaan alive, but she is human- so morality and as they say “farz hai”. 

I decided to check up on them daily. 

8 days later, on my last day at MSF in DMJ, her bed was empty.

“LAMA”, said the doctor.

Leave Against Medical Advice.

Rubina, it would seem, had given up – through no lack of love, I bet, but she simply did not have the means to carry on longer.

Photos and Text ©Khaula Jamil
On Assignment for Medicine Sans Frontiers / Doctors Without Borders


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