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   Intentional killing of human offspring
   This article is about infanticide in humans. For infanticide among
   animals, see Infanticide (zoology). For practices of killing newborns
   within 24 hours of a child's birth, see Neonaticide. For the killing of
   older children by a parent, see Filicide.
   Part of a series on

   Note: Varies by jurisdiction
     * Assassination
     * Child murder
     * Consensual homicide
     * Contract killing
     * Crime of passion
     * Depraved-heart murder
     * Execution-style murder
     * Felony murder rule
     * Foeticide
     * Honor killing
     * Human cannibalism
     * Human sacrifice
          + Child sacrifice
     * Internet homicide
     * Lonely hearts killer
     * Lust murder
     * Lynching
     * Mass murder
     * Mass shooting
     * Mass stabbing
     * Misdemeanor murder
     * Murder for body parts
     * Murder-suicide
     * Poisoning
     * Proxy murder
     * Pseudocommando
     * Serial killer
          + Angel of mercy
     * Spree killer
     * Thrill killing
     * Torture murder
     * Vehicle-ramming attack

     * In English law
     * Voluntary manslaughter
     * Negligent homicide
     * Vehicular homicide

   Non-criminal homicide

   Note: Varies by jurisdiction
     * War
     * Assisted suicide
     * Capital punishment
     * Euthanasia
     * Foeticide (Abortion)
     * Justifiable homicide
     * "License to kill"

   By victim or victims
     * Suicide

     * Avunculicide/Nepoticide
     * Familicide
     * Mariticide
     * Uxoricide
     * Prolicide
          + Filicide
          + Infanticide
          + Neonaticide
     * Siblicide
          + Fratricide
          + Sororicide
     * Parricide
          + Matricide
          + Patricide
     * Senicide

     * Crucifixion
     * Deicide
     * Democide
     * Friendly fire
     * Gendercide
     * Genocide
     * Omnicide
     * Regicide
     * Stoning
     * Tyrannicide
     * War crime

     * v
     * t
     * e

   Infanticide (or infant homicide) is the intentional killing of infants
   or offspring. Infanticide was a widespread practice throughout human
   history that was mainly used to dispose of unwanted children,^[1]^: 61
   its main purpose the prevention of resources being spent on weak or
   disabled offspring. Unwanted infants were normally abandoned to die of
   exposure, but in some societies they were deliberately killed.

   Infanticide is now widely illegal, but in some places the practice is
   tolerated or the prohibition not strictly enforced. Infanticide is
   reportedly used by the state of North Korea as a punitive or
   social-control measure,^[citation needed] and may be used or have been
   used recently in other totalitarian states, also in some tribal

   Most Stone Age human societies routinely practiced infanticide, and
   estimates of children killed by infanticide in the Mesolithic and
   Neolithic eras vary from 15 to 50 percent. Infanticide continued to be
   common in most societies after the historical era began, including
   ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the Phoenicians, ancient China, ancient
   Japan, Aboriginal Australia, Native Americans, and Native Alaskans.

   Infanticide became forbidden in Europe and the Near East during the 1st
   millennium. Christianity forbade infanticide from its earliest times,
   which led Constantine the Great and Valentinian I to ban infanticide
   across the Roman Empire in the 4th century. The practice ceased in
   Arabia in the 7th century after the founding of Islam, since the Quran
   prohibits infanticide. Infanticide of male babies had become uncommon
   in China by the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), whereas infanticide of female
   babies became more common during the One-Child Policy era (1979-2015).
   During the period of Company rule in India, the East India Company
   attempted to eliminate infanticide but were only partially successful,
   and female infanticide in some parts of India still continues.
   Infanticide is now very rare in industrialised countries but may
   persist elsewhere.

   Parental infanticide researchers have found that mothers are far more
   likely than fathers to be the perpetrators of neonaticide^[2] and
   slightly more likely to commit infanticide in general.^[3]
   [ ]


     * 1 History
          + 1.1 Paleolithic and Neolithic
          + 1.2 In ancient history
               o 1.2.1 In the New World
               o 1.2.2 In the Old World
                    # Ancient Egypt
                    # Carthage
                    # Greece and Rome
                    # Middle Ages
                    # Judaism
                    # Pagan European tribes
          + 1.3 Christianity
          + 1.4 Arabia
          + 1.5 Islam
          + 1.6 Ukraine and Russia
          + 1.7 Great Britain
          + 1.8 Asia
               o 1.8.1 China
               o 1.8.2 Japan
               o 1.8.3 India
          + 1.9 Africa
          + 1.10 Australia
               o 1.10.1 South Australia and Victoria
               o 1.10.2 Western Australia
               o 1.10.3 Australian Capital Territory
               o 1.10.4 New South Wales
               o 1.10.5 Northern Territory
          + 1.11 North America
               o 1.11.1 Inuit
               o 1.11.2 Canada
               o 1.11.3 Native Americans
               o 1.11.4 Mexico
          + 1.12 South America
               o 1.12.1 Brazil
               o 1.12.2 Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia
     * 2 Modern times
          + 2.1 Benin
          + 2.2 Mainland China
          + 2.3 India
          + 2.4 Pakistan
          + 2.5 Oceania
          + 2.6 England and Wales
          + 2.7 United States
          + 2.8 Canada
          + 2.9 Spain
     * 3 Explanations for the practice
          + 3.1 Religious
          + 3.2 Economic
               o 3.2.1 UK 18th and 19th century
          + 3.3 Population control
          + 3.4 Psychological
               o 3.4.1 Evolutionary psychology
               o 3.4.2 "Early infanticidal childrearing"
               o 3.4.3 Wider effects
          + 3.5 Psychiatric
          + 3.6 Sex selection
     * 4 Current law
          + 4.1 Australia
          + 4.2 Canada
          + 4.3 England and Wales
          + 4.4 The Netherlands
          + 4.5 Romania
          + 4.6 United States
               o 4.6.1 State Legislation
               o 4.6.2 Federal Legislation
     * 5 Prevention
          + 5.1 Sex education and birth control
          + 5.2 Psychiatric intervention
          + 5.3 Safe surrender
          + 5.4 Employment
     * 6 In animals
     * 7 See also
     * 8 References
     * 9 Further reading
     * 10 External links


   Infanticidio by Mexican artist Antonio Garcia Vega.

   The practice of infanticide has taken many forms over time. Child
   sacrifice to supernatural figures or forces, such as that believed to
   have been practiced in ancient Carthage, may be only the most notorious
   example in the ancient world.

   A frequent method of infanticide in ancient Europe and Asia was simply
   to abandon the infant, leaving it to die by exposure (i.e.,
   hypothermia, hunger, thirst, or animal attack).^[4]^[5]

   On at least one island in Oceania, infanticide was carried out until
   the 20th century by suffocating the infant,^[6] while in pre-Columbian
   Mesoamerica and in the Inca Empire it was carried out by sacrifice (see

Paleolithic and Neolithic[edit]

   Many Neolithic groups routinely resorted to infanticide in order to
   control their numbers so that their lands could support them. Joseph
   Birdsell believed that infanticide rates in prehistoric times were
   between 15% and 50% of the total number of births,^[7] while Laila
   Williamson estimated a lower rate ranging from 15% to 20%.^[1]^: 66
   Both anthropologists believed that these high rates of infanticide
   persisted until the development of agriculture during the Neolithic
   Revolution.^[8]^: 19 Comparative anthropologists have calculated that
   50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents during the
   Paleolithic era.^[9] From the infants hominid skulls (e.g. Taung child
   skull) that had been traumatized, has been proposed cannibalism by
   Raymond A. Dart.^[10] The children were not necessarily actively
   killed, but neglect and intentional malnourishment may also have
   occurred, as proposed by Vicente Lull as an explanation for an apparent
   surplus of men and the below average height of women in prehistoric

In ancient history[edit]

In the New World[edit]

   Main article: Child sacrifice in pre-Columbian cultures

   Archaeologists have uncovered physical evidence of child sacrifice at
   several locations.^[8]^: 16-22 Some of the best attested examples are
   the diverse rites which were part of the religious practices in
   Mesoamerica and the Inca Empire.^[12]^[13]^[14]

In the Old World[edit]

   Three thousand bones of young children, with evidence of sacrificial
   rituals, have been found in Sardinia. Pelasgians offered a sacrifice of
   every tenth child during difficult times. Syrians sacrificed children
   to Jupiter and Juno. Many remains of children have been found in Gezer
   excavations with signs of sacrifice. Child skeletons with the marks of
   sacrifice have been found also in Egypt dating 950-720 BCE.^[citation
   needed] In Carthage "[child] sacrifice in the ancient world reached its
   infamous zenith".^[attribution needed]^[8]^: 324 Besides the
   Carthaginians, other Phoenicians, and the Canaanites, Moabites and
   Sepharvites offered their first-born as a sacrifice to their gods.

Ancient Egypt[edit]

   In Egyptian households, at all social levels, children of both sexes
   were valued and there is no evidence of infanticide.^[15] The religion
   of the Ancient Egyptians forbade infanticide and during the Greco-Roman
   period they rescued abandoned babies from manure heaps, a common method
   of infanticide by Greeks or Romans, and were allowed to either adopt
   them as foundling or raise them as slaves, often giving them names such
   as "copro -" to memorialize their rescue.^[16] Strabo considered it a
   peculiarity of the Egyptians that every child must be reared.^[17]
   Diodorus indicates infanticide was a punishable offence.^[18] Egypt was
   heavily dependent on the annual flooding of the Nile to irrigate the
   land and in years of low inundation, severe famine could occur with
   breakdowns in social order resulting, notably between 930-1070 CE and
   1180-1350 CE. Instances of cannibalism are recorded during these
   periods but it is unknown if this happened during the pharaonic era of
   Ancient Egypt.^[19] Beatrix Midant-Reynes describes human sacrifice as
   having occurred at Abydos in the early dynastic period (c.
   3150-2850 BCE),^[20] while Jan Assmann asserts there is no clear
   evidence of human sacrifice ever happening in Ancient Egypt.^[21]


   Main article: Carthaginian religion - Child Sacrifice Question

   According to Shelby Brown, Carthaginians, descendants of the
   Phoenicians, sacrificed infants to their gods.^[22] Charred bones of
   hundreds of infants have been found in Carthaginian archaeological
   sites. One such area harbored as many as 20,000 burial urns.^[22]
   Skeptics suggest that the bodies of children found in Carthaginian and
   Phoenician cemeteries were merely the cremated remains of children that
   died naturally.^[23]

   Plutarch (c. 46-120 CE) mentions the practice, as do Tertullian,
   Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. The Hebrew Bible also mentions
   what appears to be child sacrifice practiced at a place called the
   Tophet (from the Hebrew taph or toph, to burn) by the Canaanites.
   Writing in the 3rd century BCE, Kleitarchos, one of the historians of
   Alexander the Great, described that the infants rolled into the flaming
   pit. Diodorus Siculus wrote that babies were roasted to death inside
   the burning pit of the god Baal Hamon, a bronze statue.^[24]^[25]

Greece and Rome[edit]

   Medea killing her sons, by Eugene Ferdinand Victor Delacroix (1862).

   The historical Greeks considered the practice of adult and child
   sacrifice barbarous,^[26] however, the exposure of newborns was widely
   practiced in ancient Greece.^[27]^[28]^[29] It was advocated by
   Aristotle in the case of congenital deformity: "As to the exposure of
   children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall
   live."^[30]^[31] In Greece, the decision to expose a child was
   typically the father's, although in Sparta the decision was made by a
   group of elders.^[32] Exposure was the preferred method of disposal, as
   that act in itself was not considered to be murder; moreover, the
   exposed child technically had a chance of being rescued by the gods or
   any passersby.^[33] This very situation was a recurring motif in Greek
   mythology.^[34] To notify the neighbors of a birth of a child, a woolen
   strip was hung over the front door to indicate a female baby and an
   olive branch to indicate a boy had been born. Families did not always
   keep their new child. After a woman had a baby, she would show it to
   her husband. If the husband accepted it, it would live, but if he
   refused it, it would die. Babies would often be rejected if they were
   illegitimate, unhealthy or deformed, the wrong sex, or too great a
   burden on the family. These babies would not be directly killed, but
   put in a clay pot or jar and deserted outside the front door or on the
   roadway. In ancient Greek religion, this practice took the
   responsibility away from the parents because the child would die of
   natural causes, for example, hunger, asphyxiation or exposure to the

   The practice was prevalent in ancient Rome, as well. Philo was the
   first philosopher to speak out against it.^[35]^[36] A letter from a
   Roman citizen to his sister, or a pregnant wife from her husband,^[37]
   dating from 1 BCE, demonstrates the casual nature with which
   infanticide was often viewed:

          "I am still in Alexandria. ... I beg and plead with you to take
          care of our little child, and as soon as we receive wages, I
          will send them to you. In the meantime, if (good fortune to
          you!) you give birth, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a
          girl, expose it.",^[38]^[39] "If you give birth to a boy, keep
          it. If it is a girl, expose it. Try not to worry. I'll send the
          money as soon as we get paid."^[40]

   Massacre of the Innocents by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, 1860

   In some periods of Roman history it was traditional for a newborn to be
   brought to the pater familias, the family patriarch, who would then
   decide whether the child was to be kept and raised, or left to die by
   exposure.^[41] The Twelve Tables of Roman law obliged him to put to
   death a child that was visibly deformed. The concurrent practices of
   slavery and infanticide contributed to the "background noise" of the
   crises during the Republic.^[41]

   Infanticide became a capital offense in Roman law in 374, but offenders
   were rarely if ever prosecuted.^[42]

   According to mythology, Romulus and Remus, twin infant sons of the war
   god Mars, survived near-infanticide after being tossed into the Tiber
   River. According to the myth, they were raised by wolves, and later
   founded the city of Rome.

Middle Ages[edit]

   Whereas theologians and clerics preached sparing their lives, newborn
   abandonment continued as registered in both the literature record and
   in legal documents.^[5]^: 16 According to William Lecky, exposure in
   the early Middle Ages, as distinct from other forms of infanticide,
   "was practiced on a gigantic scale with absolute impunity, noticed by
   writers with most frigid indifference and, at least in the case of
   destitute parents, considered a very venial offence".^[43]^: 355-56 The
   first foundling house in Europe was established in Milan in 787 on
   account of the high number of infanticides and out-of-wedlock births.
   The Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Rome was founded by Pope Innocent
   III because women were throwing their infants into the Tiber

   Unlike other European regions, in the Middle Ages the German mother had
   the right to expose the newborn.^[45]

   In the High Middle Ages, abandoning unwanted children finally eclipsed
   infanticide.^[citation needed] Unwanted children were left at the door
   of church or abbey, and the clergy was assumed to take care of their
   upbringing. This practice also gave rise to the first orphanages.

   However, very high sex ratios were common in even late medieval Europe,
   which may indicate sex-selective infanticide.^[46]


   In this depiction of the Binding of Isaac by Julius Schnorr von
   Karolsfeld, 1860, Abraham is shown not sacrificing Isaac.

   Judaism prohibits infanticide, and has for some time, dating back to at
   least early Common Era. Roman historians wrote about the ideas and
   customs of other peoples, which often diverged from their own. Tacitus
   recorded that the Jews "take thought to increase their numbers, for
   they regard it as a crime to kill any late-born children".^[47]
   Josephus, whose works give an important insight into 1st-century
   Judaism, wrote that God "forbids women to cause abortion of what is
   begotten, or to destroy it afterward".^[48]

Pagan European tribes[edit]

   In his book Germania, Tacitus wrote in 98 CE that the ancient Germanic
   tribes enforced a similar prohibition. He found such mores remarkable
   and commented: "To restrain generation and the increase of children, is
   esteemed [by the Germans] an abominable sin, as also to kill infants
   newly born."^[49] It has become clear over the millennia, though, that
   Tacitus' description was inaccurate; the consensus of modern
   scholarship significantly differs. John Boswell believed that in
   ancient Germanic tribes unwanted children were exposed, usually in the
   forest.^[50]^: 218 "It was the custom of the [Teutonic] pagans, that if
   they wanted to kill a son or daughter, they would be killed before they
   had been given any food."^[50]^: 211 Usually children born out of
   wedlock were disposed of that way.

   In his highly influential Pre-historic Times, John Lubbock described
   burnt bones indicating the practice of child sacrifice in pagan

   The last canto, Marjatan poika (Son of Marjatta), of Finnish national
   epic Kalevala describes assumed infanticide. Vaeinaemoeinen orders the
   infant bastard son of Marjatta to be drowned in a marsh.

   The Islendingabok, the main source for the early history of Iceland,
   recounts that on the Conversion of Iceland to Christianity in 1000 it
   was provided - in order to make the transition more palatable to Pagans
   - that "the old laws allowing exposure of newborn children will remain
   in force". However, this provision - among other concessions made at
   the time to the Pagans - was abolished some years later.


   Christianity explicitly rejects infanticide. The Teachings of the
   Apostles or Didache said "thou shalt not kill a child by abortion,
   neither shalt thou slay it when born".^[52] The Epistle of Barnabas
   stated an identical command, both thus conflating abortion and
   infanticide.^[53] Apologists Tertullian, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix,
   Justin Martyr and Lactantius also maintained that exposing a baby to
   death was a wicked act.^[4] In 318, Constantine I considered
   infanticide a crime, and in 374, Valentinian I mandated the rearing of
   all children (exposing babies, especially girls, was still common). The
   Council of Constantinople declared that infanticide was homicide, and
   in 589, the Third Council of Toledo took measures against the custom of
   killing their own children.^[42]


   Some Muslim sources allege that pre-Islamic Arabian society practiced
   infanticide as a form of "post-partum birth control".^[54] The word wad
   was used to describe the practice.^[55] These sources state that
   infanticide was practiced either out of destitution (thus practiced on
   males and females alike), or as "disappointment and fear of social
   disgrace felt by a father upon the birth of a daughter".^[54]

   Some authors believe that there is little evidence that infanticide was
   prevalent in pre-Islamic Arabia or early Muslim history, except for the
   case of the Tamim tribe, who practiced it during severe famine
   according to Islamic sources.^[56] Others state that "female
   infanticide was common all over Arabia during this period of time"
   (pre-Islamic Arabia), especially by burying alive a female
   newborn.^[8]^: 59 ^[57] A tablet discovered in Yemen, forbidding the
   people of a certain town from engaging in the practice, is the only
   written reference to infanticide within the peninsula in pre-Islamic


   Infanticide is explicitly prohibited by the Qur'an.^[59] "And do not
   kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and
   yourselves too; surely to kill them is a great wrong."^[60] Together
   with polytheism and homicide, infanticide is regarded as a grave sin
   (see 6:151 and 60:12).^[54] Infanticide is also implicitly denounced in
   the story of Pharaoh's slaughter of the male children of Israelites
   (see 2:49; 7:127; 7:141; 14:6; 28:4; 40:25).^[54]

Ukraine and Russia[edit]

   Femme Russe abandonnant ses enfants `a des loups ("Russian Woman
   Abandoning Her Children to the Wolves"). Charles-Michel Geoffroy [fr],

   Infanticide may have been practiced as human sacrifice, as part of the
   pagan cult of Perun. Ibn Fadlan describes sacrificial practices at the
   time of his trip to Kiev Rus (present-day Ukraine) in 921-922, and
   describes an incident of a woman voluntarily sacrificing her life as
   part of a funeral rite for a prominent leader, but makes no mention of
   infanticide. The Primary Chronicle, one of the most important literary
   sources before the 12th century, indicates that human sacrifice to
   idols may have been introduced by Vladimir the Great in 980. The same
   Vladimir the Great formally converted Kiev Rus into Christianity just
   8 years later, but pagan cults continued to be practiced clandestinely
   in remote areas as late as the 13th century.

   American explorer George Kennan noted that among the Koryaks, a
   Mongoloid people of north-eastern Siberia, infanticide was still common
   in the nineteenth century. One of a pair of twins was always

Great Britain[edit]

   Infanticide (as a crime) gained both popular and bureaucratic
   significance in Victorian Britain. By the mid-19th century, in the
   context of criminal lunacy and the insanity defence, killing one's own
   child(ren) attracted ferocious debate, as the role of women in society
   was defined by motherhood, and it was thought that any woman who
   murdered her own child was by definition insane and could not be held
   responsible for her actions. Several cases were subsequently
   highlighted during the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment 1864-66,
   as a particular felony where an effective avoidance of the death
   penalty had informally begun.
   Baby killer Amelia Dyer (pictured upon entry to Wells Asylum in 1893).
   Her trial led to stricter laws for adoption and raised the profile of
   the fledgling National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
   Children (NSPCC) which formed in 1884.^[62]

   The New Poor Law Act of 1834 ended parish relief for unmarried mothers
   and allowed fathers of illegitimate children to avoid paying for "child
   support".^[63] Unmarried mothers then received little assistance and
   the poor were left with the option either entering the workhouse,
   prostitution, infanticide or abortion. By the middle of the century
   infanticide was common for social reasons, such as illegitimacy, and
   the introduction of child life insurance additionally encouraged some
   women to kill their children for gain. Examples are Mary Ann Cotton,
   who murdered many of her 15 children as well as three husbands,
   Margaret Waters, the 'Brixton Baby Farmer', a professional baby-farmer
   who was found guilty of infanticide in 1870, Jessie King hanged in
   1889, Amelia Dyer, the 'Angel Maker', who murdered over 400 babies in
   her care, and Ada Chard-Williams, a baby farmer who was later hanged at
   Newgate prison.

   The Times reported that 67 infants were murdered in London in 1861 and
   150 more recorded as "found dead", many of which were found on the
   streets. Another 250 were suffocated, half of them not recorded as
   accidental deaths. The report noted that "infancy in London has to
   creep into life in the midst of foes."^[64]

   Recording a birth as a still-birth was also another way of concealing
   infanticide because still-births did not need to be registered until
   1926 and they did not need to be buried in public cemeteries.^[65] In
   1895 The Sun (London) published an article "Massacre of the Innocents"
   highlighting the dangers of baby-farming, in the recording of
   stillbirths and quoting Braxton-Hicks, the London Coroner, on lying-in
   houses: "I have not the slightest doubt that a large amount of crime is
   covered by the expression 'still-birth'. There are a large number of
   cases of what are called newly-born children, which are found all over
   England, more especially in London and large towns, abandoned in
   streets, rivers, on commons, and so on." He continued "a great deal of
   that crime is due to what are called lying-in houses, which are not
   registered, or under the supervision of that sort, where the people who
   act as midwives constantly, as soon as the child is born, either drop
   it into a pail of water or smother it with a damp cloth. It is a very
   common thing, also, to find that they bash their heads on the floor and
   break their skulls."^[66]

   The last British woman to be executed for infanticide of her own child
   was Rebecca Smith, who was hanged in Wiltshire in 1849.

   The Infant Life Protection Act of 1897 required local authorities to be
   notified within 48 hours of changes in custody or the death of children
   under seven years. Under the Children's Act of 1908 "no infant could be
   kept in a home that was so unfit and so overcrowded as to endanger its
   health, and no infant could be kept by an unfit nurse who threatened,
   by neglect or abuse, its proper care, and maintenance."



   Burying Babies in China (p. 40, March 1865, XXII)^[67]

   As of the 3rd century BC, short of execution, the harshest penalties
   were imposed on practitioners of infanticide by the legal codes of the
   Qin dynasty and Han dynasty of ancient China.^[68]

   China's society practiced sex selective infanticide. Philosopher Han
   Fei Tzu, a member of the ruling aristocracy of the 3rd century BCE, who
   developed a school of law, wrote: "As to children, a father and mother
   when they produce a boy congratulate one another, but when they produce
   a girl they put it to death."^[69] Among the Hakka people, and in
   Yunnan, Anhui, Sichuan, Jiangxi and Fujian a method of killing the baby
   was to put her into a bucket of cold water, which was called "baby

   Infanticide was reported as early as the 3rd century BCE, and, by the
   time of the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE), it was widespread in some
   provinces. Belief in transmigration allowed poor residents of the
   country to kill their newborn children if they felt unable to care for
   them, hoping that they would be reborn in better circumstances.
   Furthermore, some Chinese did not consider newborn children fully
   "human" and saw "life" beginning at some point after the sixth month
   after birth.^[71]

   The Venetian explorer Marco Polo claimed to have seen newborns exposed
   in Manzi.^[72] Contemporary writers from the Song dynasty note that, in
   Hubei and Fujian provinces, residents would only keep three sons and
   two daughters (among poor farmers, two sons, and one daughter), and
   kill all babies beyond that number at birth.^[73] Initially the sex of
   the child was only one factor to consider. By the time of the Ming
   Dynasty, however (1368-1644), male infanticide was becoming
   increasingly uncommon. The prevalence of female infanticide remained
   high much longer. The magnitude of this practice is subject to some
   dispute; however, one commonly quoted estimate is that, by late Qing,
   between one fifth and one-quarter of all newborn girls, across the
   entire social spectrum, were victims of infanticide. If one includes
   excess mortality among female children under 10 (ascribed to
   gender-differential neglect), the share of victims rises to one

   Scottish physician John Dudgeon, who worked in Peking, China, during
   the early 20th century said that, "Infanticide does not prevail to the
   extent so generally believed among us, and in the north, it does not
   exist at all."^[77]
   Sex ratio at birth in mainland China, males per 100 females, 1980-2010.

   Gender-selected abortion or sex identification (without medical
   uses^[78]^[79]), abandonment, and infanticide are illegal in
   present-day Mainland China. Nevertheless, the US State Department,^[80]
   and the human rights organization Amnesty International^[81] have all
   declared that Mainland China's family planning programs, called the one
   child policy (which has since changed to a two-child policy^[82]),
   contribute to infanticide.^[83]^[84]^[85] The sex gap between males and
   females aged 0-19 years old was estimated to be 25 million in 2010 by
   the United Nations Population Fund.^[86] But in some cases, in order to
   avoid Mainland China's family planning programs, parents will not
   report to government when a child is born (in most cases a girl), so
   she or he will not have an identity in the government and they can keep
   on giving birth until they are satisfied, without fines or punishment.
   In 2017, the government announced that all children without an identity
   can now have an identity legally, known as family register.^[87]


   Since feudal Edo era Japan the common slang for infanticide was
   "mabiki" (ki) which means to pull plants from an overcrowded garden. A
   typical method in Japan was smothering the baby's mouth and nose with
   wet paper.^[88] It became common as a method of population control.
   Farmers would often kill their second or third sons. Daughters were
   usually spared, as they could be married off, sold off as servants or
   prostitutes, or sent off to become geishas.^[89] Mabiki persisted in
   the 19th century and early 20th century.^[90] To bear twins was
   perceived as barbarous and unlucky and efforts were made to hide or
   kill one or both twins.^[91]


   Main article: Infanticide in India
   Hindu Woman carrying her child to be drowned in the River Ganges at
   Bengal (1852)^[92]
   Hindoo Mother Sacrificing her infant (November 1853, X, p. 120)^[93]

   Female infanticide of newborn girls was systematic in feudatory Rajputs
   in South Asia for illegitimate female children during the Middle Ages.
   According to Firishta, as soon as the illegitimate female child was
   born she was held "in one hand, and a knife in the other, that any
   person who wanted a wife might take her now, otherwise she was
   immediately put to death".^[94] The practice of female infanticide was
   also common among the Kutch, Kehtri, Nagar, Bengal, Miazed, Kalowries
   and Sindh communities.^[95]

   It was not uncommon that parents threw a child to the sharks in the
   Ganges River as a sacrificial offering. The East India Company
   administration were unable to outlaw the custom until the beginning of
   the 19th century.^[96]^: 78

   According to social activists, female infanticide has remained a
   problem in India into the 21st century, with both NGOs and the
   government conducting awareness campaigns to combat it.^[97]


   In some African societies some neonates were killed because of beliefs
   in evil omens or because they were considered unlucky. Twins were
   usually put to death in Arebo; as well as by the Nama people of South
   West Africa; in the Lake Victoria Nyanza region; by the Tswana in
   Portuguese East Africa; in some parts of Igboland, Nigeria twins were
   sometimes abandoned in a forest at birth (as depicted in Things Fall
   Apart), oftentimes one twin was killed or hidden by midwives of
   wealthier mothers; and by the !Kung people of the Kalahari
   Desert.^[8]^: 160-61 The Kikuyu, Kenya's most populous ethnic group,
   practiced ritual killing of twins.^[98]

   Infanticide is rooted in the old traditions and beliefs prevailing all
   over the country. A survey conducted by Disability Rights International
   found that 45% of women interviewed by them in Kenya were pressured to
   kill their children born with disabilities. The pressure is much higher
   in the rural areas, with every two mothers being forced out of


   Literature suggests infanticide may have occurred reasonably commonly
   among Indigenous Australians, in all areas of Australia prior to
   European settlement. Infanticide may have continued to occur quite
   often up until the 1960s. An 1866 issue of The Australian News for Home
   Readers informed readers that "the crime of infanticide is so prevalent
   amongst the natives that it is rare to see an infant".^[100]

   Author Susanna de Vries in 2007 told a newspaper that her accounts of
   Aboriginal violence, including infanticide, were censored by publishers
   in the 1980s and 1990s. She told reporters that the censorship "stemmed
   from guilt over the stolen children question".^[101] Keith Windschuttle
   weighed in on the conversation, saying this type of censorship started
   in the 1970s.^[101] In the same article Louis Nowra suggested that
   infanticide in customary Aboriginal law may have been because it was
   difficult to keep an abundant number of Aboriginal children alive;
   there were life-and-death decisions modern-day Australians no longer
   have to face.^[101]

South Australia and Victoria[edit]

   According to William D. Rubinstein, "Nineteenth-century European
   observers of Aboriginal life in South Australia and Victoria reported
   that about 30% of Aboriginal infants were killed at birth."^[102]

   James Dawson wrote a passage about infanticide among Indigenous people
   in the western district of Victoria, which stated that "Twins are as
   common among them as among Europeans; but as food is occasionally very
   scarce, and a large family troublesome to move about, it is lawful and
   customary to destroy the weakest twin child, irrespective of sex. It is
   usual also to destroy those which are malformed."^[103]

   He also wrote "When a woman has children too rapidly for the
   convenience and necessities of the parents, she makes up her mind to
   let one be killed, and consults with her husband which it is to be. As
   the strength of a tribe depends more on males than females, the girls
   are generally sacrificed. The child is put to death and buried, or
   burned without ceremony; not, however, by its father or mother, but by
   relatives. No one wears mourning for it. Sickly children are never
   killed on account of their bad health, and are allowed to die

Western Australia[edit]

   In 1937, a reverend in the Kimberley offered a "baby bonus" to
   Aboriginal families as a deterrent against infanticide and to increase
   the birthrate of the local Indigenous population.^[104]

Australian Capital Territory[edit]

   A Canberran journalist in 1927 wrote of the "cheapness of life" to the
   Aboriginal people local to the Canberra area 100 years before. "If
   drought or bush fires had devastated the country and curtailed food
   supplies, babies got a short shift. Ailing babies, too would not be
   kept" he wrote.^[105]

New South Wales[edit]

   A bishop wrote in 1928 that it was common for Aboriginal Australians to
   restrict the size of their tribal groups, including by infanticide, so
   that the food resources of the tribal area may be sufficient for

Northern Territory[edit]

   Annette Hamilton, a professor of anthropology at Macquarie University
   who carried out research in the Aboriginal community of Maningrida in
   Arnhem Land during the 1960s wrote that prior to that time
   part-European babies born to Aboriginal mothers had not been allowed to
   live, and that 'mixed-unions are frowned on by men and women alike as a
   matter of principle'.^[107]

North America[edit]


   There is no agreement about the actual estimates of the frequency of
   newborn female infanticide in the Inuit population. Carmel Schrire
   mentions diverse studies ranging from 15 to 50% to 80%.^[108]

   Polar Inuit (Inughuit) killed the child by throwing him or her into the
   sea.^[109] There is even a legend in Inuit mythology, "The Unwanted
   Child", where a mother throws her child into the fjord.

   The Yukon and the Mahlemuit tribes of Alaska exposed the female
   newborns by first stuffing their mouths with grass before leaving them
   to die.^[110] In Arctic Canada the Inuit exposed their babies on the
   ice and left them to die.^[43]^: 354

   Female Inuit infanticide disappeared in the 1930s and 1940s after
   contact with the Western cultures from the South.^[111]


   The Handbook of North American Indians reports infanticide among the
   Dene Natives and those of the Mackenzie Mountains.^[112]^[113]

Native Americans[edit]

   In the Eastern Shoshone there was a scarcity of Indian women as a
   result of female infanticide.^[114] For the Maidu Native Americans
   twins were so dangerous that they not only killed them, but the mother
   as well.^[115] In the region known today as southern Texas, the Mariame
   Indians practiced infanticide of females on a large scale. Wives had to
   be obtained from neighboring groups.^[116]


   Bernal Diaz recounted that, after landing on the Veracruz coast, they
   came across a temple dedicated to Tezcatlipoca. "That day they had
   sacrificed two boys, cutting open their chests and offering their blood
   and hearts to that accursed idol".^[117] In The Conquest of New Spain
   Diaz describes more child sacrifices in the towns before the Spaniards
   reached the large Aztec city Tenochtitlan.

South America[edit]

   Although academic data of infanticides among the indigenous people in
   South America is not as abundant as that of North America, the
   estimates seem to be similar.


   The Tapirape indigenous people of Brazil allowed no more than three
   children per woman, and no more than two of the same sex. If the rule
   was broken infanticide was practiced.^[118] The Bororo killed all the
   newborns that did not appear healthy enough. Infanticide is also
   documented in the case of the Korubo people in the Amazon.^[119]

   The Yanomami men killed children while raiding enemy villages.^[120]
   Helena Valero, a Brazilian woman kidnapped by Yanomami warriors in the
   1930s, witnessed a Karawetari raid on her tribe:

     "They killed so many. I was weeping for fear and for pity but there
     was nothing I could do. They snatched the children from their
     mothers to kill them, while the others held the mothers tightly by
     the arms and wrists as they stood up in a line. All the women wept.
     ... The men began to kill the children; little ones, bigger ones,
     they killed many of them.".^[120]

Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia[edit]

   While qhapaq hucha was practiced in the Peruvian large cities, child
   sacrifice in the pre-Columbian tribes of the region is less documented.
   However, even today studies on the Aymara Indians reveal high
   incidences of mortality among the newborn, especially female deaths,
   suggesting infanticide.^[121] The Abipones, a small tribe of Guaycuruan
   stock, of about 5,000 by the end of the 18th century in Paraguay,
   practiced systematic infanticide; with never more than two children
   being reared in one family. The Machigenga killed their disabled
   children. Infanticide among the Chaco in Paraguay was estimated as high
   as 50% of all newborns in that tribe, who were usually buried.^[122]
   The infanticidal custom had such roots among the Ayoreo in Bolivia and
   Paraguay that it persisted until the late 20th century.^[123]

Modern times[edit]

   See also: Missing women

   Infanticide has become less common in the Western world. The frequency
   has been estimated to be 1 in approximately 3000 to 5000 children of
   all ages^[124] and 2.1 per 100,000 newborns per year.^[125] It is
   thought that infanticide today continues at a much higher rate in areas
   of extremely high poverty and overpopulation, such as parts of
   India.^[126] Female infants, then and even now, are particularly
   vulnerable, a factor in sex-selective infanticide. Recent estimates
   suggest that over 100 million girls and women are 'missing' in


   In spite of the fact that it is illegal, in Benin, West Africa, parents
   secretly continue with infanticidal customs.^[128]

  Mainland China[edit]

   There have been some accusations that infanticide occurs in Mainland
   China due to the one-child policy.^[129] In the 1990s, a certain
   stretch of the Yangtze River was known to be a common site of
   infanticide by drowning, until government projects made access to it
   more difficult. Recent studies suggest that over 40 million girls and
   women are missing in Mainland China (Klasen and Wink 2002).^[130]


   The practice has continued in some rural areas of India.^[131]^[132]
   Infanticide is illegal in India but still has the highest infanticide
   rate in the world.^[133]

   According to a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund
   (UNICEF) up to 50 million girls and women are missing in India's
   population as a result of systematic sex discrimination and sex
   selective abortions.^[134]


   Killings of newborn babies have been on the rise in Pakistan,
   corresponding to an increase in poverty across the country.^[135] More
   than 1,000 infants, mostly girls, were killed or abandoned to die in
   Pakistan in 2009 according to a Pakistani charity organization.^[136]

   The Edhi Foundation found 1,210 dead babies in 2010. Many more are
   abandoned and left at the doorsteps of mosques. As a result, Edhi
   centers feature signs "Do not murder, lay them here." Though female
   infanticide is punishable by life in prison, such crimes are rarely


   On November 28, 2008, The National, one of Papua New Guinea's two
   largest newspapers at the time, ran a story entitled "Male Babies
   Killed To Stop Fights"^[137] which claimed that in Agibu and Amosa
   villages of Gimi region of Eastern Highlands province of Papua New
   Guinea where tribal fighting in the region of Gimi has been going on
   since 1986 (many of the clashes arising over claims of sorcery) women
   had agreed that if they stopped producing males, allowing only female
   babies to survive, their tribe's stock of boys would go down and there
   would be no men in the future to fight. They had supposedly agreed to
   have all newborn male babies killed. It is not known how many male
   babies were supposedly killed by being smothered, but it had reportedly
   happened to all males over a 10-year period.

   However, this claim about male infanticide in Papua New Guinea was
   probably just the result of inaccurate and sensationalistic news
   reporting, because Salvation Army workers in the region of Gimi denied
   that the supposed male infanticide actually happened, and said that the
   tribal women were merely speaking hypothetically and hyperbolically
   about male infanticide at a peace and reconciliation workshop in order
   to make a point. The tribal women had never planned to actually kill
   their own sons.^[138]

  England and Wales[edit]

   In England and Wales there were typically 30 to 50 homicides per
   million children less than 1 year old between 1982 and 1996.^[139] The
   younger the infant, the higher the risk.^[139] The rate for children 1
   to 5 years was around 10 per million children.^[139] The homicide rate
   of infants less than 1 year is significantly higher than for the
   general population.^[139]

   In English law infanticide is established as a distinct offence by the
   Infanticide Acts. Defined as the killing of a child under 12 months of
   age by their mother, the effect of the Acts are to establish a partial
   defence to charges of murder.^[140]

  United States[edit]

   Further information: Born-Alive Infants Protection Act and Born alive
   laws in the United States

   In the United States the infanticide rate during the first hour of life
   outside the womb dropped from 1.41 per 100,000 during 1963 to 1972 to
   0.44 per 100,000 for 1974 to 1983; the rates during the first month
   after birth also declined, whereas those for older infants rose during
   this time.^[141] The legalization of abortion, which was completed in
   1973, was the most important factor in the decline in neonatal
   mortality during the period from 1964 to 1977, according to a study by
   economists associated with the National Bureau of Economic


   In Canada, 114 cases of infanticide by a parent were reported during


   In Spain, far-right political party Vox has claimed that female
   perpetrators of infanticide outnumber male perpetrators of
   femicide.^[144] However, neither the Spanish National Statistics
   Institute nor the Ministry of the Interior keep data on the gender of
   perpetrators, but victims of femicide consistently number higher than
   victims of infanticide.^[144] From 2013 to March 2018, 28 infanticide
   cases perpetrated by 22 mothers and three stepmothers were reported in

Explanations for the practice[edit]

   There are various reasons for infanticide. Neonaticide typically has
   different patterns and causes than for the killing of older infants.
   Traditional neonaticide is often related to economic necessity - the
   inability to provide for the infant.

   In the United Kingdom and the United States, older infants are
   typically killed for reasons related to child abuse, domestic violence
   or mental illness.^[139] For infants older than one day, younger
   infants are more at risk, and boys are more at risk than girls.^[139]
   Risk factors for the parent include: Family history of violence,
   violence in a current relationship, history of abuse or neglect of
   children, and personality disorder and/or depression.^[139]


   In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, "loopholes" were invented by
   some suicidal members of Lutheran churches^[146] who wanted to avoid
   the damnation that was promised by most Christian doctrine as a penalty
   of suicide. One famous example of someone who wished to end their life
   but avoid the eternity in hell was Christina Johansdotter (died 1740).
   She was a Swedish murderer who killed a child in Stockholm with the
   sole purpose of being executed. She is an example of those who seek
   suicide through execution by committing a murder. It was a common act,
   frequently targeting young children or infants as they were believed to
   be free from sin, thus believing to go "straight to heaven".^[147]

   Although most mainstream Christian denominations, including Lutherans,
   view the murder of an innocent as being condemned in the Fifth
   Commandment, the suicidal members of Lutheran churches who deliberately
   killed children with the intent of getting executed were usually well
   aware of Christian doctrine against murder, and planned to repent and
   seek forgiveness of their sins afterwards. For example, in 18th century
   Denmark up until the year 1767, murderers were given the opportunity to
   repent of their sins before they were executed either way. But it's
   ambiguous as to whether or not the perpetrators' repentance in this
   situation is actually genuine, as some may genuinely regret their
   actions, while others may not. In Denmark on the year of 1767, the
   religiously motivated suicidal murders finally ceased in that country
   with the abolishment of the death penalty.^[148]

   In 1888, Lieut. F. Elton reported that Ugi beach people in the Solomon
   Islands killed their infants at birth by burying them, and women were
   also said to practice abortion. They reported that it was too much
   trouble to raise a child, and instead preferred to buy one from the
   bush people.^[149]


   Many historians believe the reason to be primarily economic, with more
   children born than the family is prepared to support. In societies that
   are patrilineal and patrilocal, the family may choose to allow more
   sons to live and kill some daughters, as the former will support their
   birth family until they die, whereas the latter will leave economically
   and geographically to join their husband's family, possibly only after
   the payment of a burdensome dowry price. Thus the decision to bring up
   a boy is more economically rewarding to the parents.^[8]^: 362-68
   However, this does not explain why infanticide would occur equally
   among rich and poor, nor why it would be as frequent during decadent
   periods of the Roman Empire as during earlier, less affluent,
   periods.^[8]^: 28-34, 187-92

   Before the appearance of effective contraception, infanticide was a
   common occurrence in ancient brothels. Unlike usual infanticide - where
   historically girls have been more likely to be killed - prostitutes in
   certain areas preferred to kill their male offspring.^[150]

    UK 18th and 19th century[edit]

   Instances of infanticide in Britain in 18th and 19th centuries is often
   attributed to the economic position of the women, with juries
   committing "pious perjury" in many subsequent murder cases. The
   knowledge of the difficulties faced in the 18th century by those women
   who attempted to keep their children can be seen as a reason for juries
   to show compassion. If the woman chose to keep the child, society was
   not set up to ease the pressure placed upon the woman, legally,
   socially or economically.^[151]

   In mid-18th century Britain there was assistance available for women
   who were not able to raise their children. The Foundling Hospital
   opened in 1756 and was able to take in some of the illegitimate
   children. However, the conditions within the hospital caused Parliament
   to withdraw funding and the governors to live off of their own
   incomes.^[152] This resulted in a stringent entrance policy, with the
   committee requiring that the hospital:

          Will not receive a child that is more than a year old, nor the
          child of a domestic servant, nor any child whose father can be
          compelled to maintain it.^[153]

   Once a mother had admitted her child to the hospital, the hospital did
   all it could to ensure that the parent and child were not

   MacFarlane argues in Illegitimacy and Illegitimates in Britain (1980)
   that English society greatly concerned itself with the burden that a
   bastard child places upon its communities and had gone to some lengths
   to ensure that the father of the child is identified in order to
   maintain its well-being.^[154] Assistance could be gained through
   maintenance payments from the father, however, this was capped "at a
   miserable 2 s and 6 d a week".^[155] If the father fell behind with the
   payments he could only be asked "to pay a maximum of 13 weeks

   Despite the accusations of some that women were getting a free
   hand-out, there is evidence that many women were far from receiving
   adequate assistance from their parish. "Within Leeds in 1822 ... relief
   was limited to 1 s per week".^[156] Sheffield required women to enter
   the workhouse, whereas Halifax gave no relief to the women who required
   it. The prospect of entering the workhouse was certainly something to
   be avoided. Lionel Rose quotes Dr Joseph Rogers in Massacre of the
   Innocents ... (1986). Rogers, who was employed by a London workhouse in
   1856 stated that conditions in the nursery were `wretchedly damp and
   miserable ... [and] ... overcrowded with young mothers and their

   The loss of social standing for a servant girl was a particular problem
   in respect of producing a bastard child as they relied upon a good
   character reference in order to maintain their job and more
   importantly, to get a new or better job. In a large number of trials
   for the crime of infanticide, it is the servant girl that stood
   accused.^[158] The disadvantage of being a servant girl is that they
   had to live to the social standards of their superiors or risk
   dismissal and no references. Whereas within other professions, such as
   in the factory, the relationship between employer and employee was much
   more anonymous and the mother would be better able to make other
   provisions, such as employing a minder.^[159] The result of the lack of
   basic social care in Britain in the 18th and 19th century is the
   numerous accounts in court records of women, particularly servant
   girls, standing trial for the murder of their child.^[160]

   There may have been no specific offense of infanticide in England
   before about 1623 because infanticide was a matter for the by
   ecclesiastical courts, possibly because infant mortality from natural
   causes was high (about 15% or one in six).^[161]

   Thereafter the accusation of the suppression of bastard children by
   lewd mothers was a crime incurring the presumption of guilt.^[162]

   The Infanticide Acts are several laws. That of 1922 made the killing of
   an infant child by its mother during the early months of life as a
   lesser crime than murder. The acts of 1938 and 1939 abolished the
   earlier act, but introduced the idea that postpartum depression was
   legally to be regarded as a form of diminished responsibility.

  Population control[edit]

   Marvin Harris estimated that among Paleolithic hunters 23-50% of
   newborn children were killed. He argued that the goal was to preserve
   the 0.001% population growth of that time.^[163]^: 15 He also wrote
   that female infanticide may be a form of population control.^[163]^: 5
   Population control is achieved not only by limiting the number of
   potential mothers; increased fighting among men for access to
   relatively scarce wives would also lead to a decline in population. For
   example, on the Melanesian island of Tikopia infanticide was used to
   keep a stable population in line with its resource base.^[6] Research
   by Marvin Harris and William Divale supports this argument, it has been
   cited as an example of environmental determinism.^[164]


    Evolutionary psychology[edit]

   Evolutionary psychology has proposed several theories for different
   forms of infanticide. Infanticide by stepfathers, as well as child
   abuse in general by stepfathers, has been explained by spending
   resources on not genetically related children reducing reproductive
   success (See the Cinderella effect and Infanticide (zoology)).
   Infanticide is one of the few forms of violence more often done by
   women than men. Cross-cultural research has found that this is more
   likely to occur when the child has deformities or illnesses as well as
   when there are lacking resources due to factors such as poverty, other
   children requiring resources, and no male support. Such a child may
   have a low chance of reproductive success in which case it would
   decrease the mother's inclusive fitness, in particular since women
   generally have a greater parental investment than men, to spend
   resources on the child.^[165]

    "Early infanticidal childrearing"[edit]

   A minority of academics subscribe to an alternate school of thought,
   considering the practice as "early infanticidal childrearing".^[166]^:
   246-47 They attribute parental infanticidal wishes to massive
   projection or displacement of the parents' unconscious onto the child,
   because of intergenerational, ancestral abuse by their own
   parents.^[167] Clearly, an infanticidal parent may have multiple
   motivations, conflicts, emotions, and thoughts about their baby and
   their relationship with their baby, which are often colored both by
   their individual psychology, current relational context and attachment
   history, and, perhaps most saliently, their psychopathology^[168]
   Almeida, Merminod, and Schechter suggest that parents with fantasies,
   projections, and delusions involving infanticide need to be taken
   seriously and assessed carefully, whenever possible, by an
   interdisciplinary team that includes infant mental health specialists
   or mental health practitioners who have experience in working with
   parents, children, and families.

    Wider effects[edit]

   In addition to debates over the morality of infanticide itself, there
   is some debate over the effects of infanticide on surviving children,
   and the effects of childrearing in societies that also sanction
   infanticide. Some argue that the practice of infanticide in any
   widespread form causes enormous psychological damage in
   children.^[166]^: 261-62 Conversely, studying societies that practice
   infanticide Geza Roheim reported that even infanticidal mothers in New
   Guinea, who ate a child, did not affect the personality development of
   the surviving children; that "these are good mothers who eat their own
   children".^[169] Harris and Divale's work on the relationship between
   female infanticide and warfare suggests that there are, however,
   extensive negative effects.


   See also: Psychiatric disorders of childbirth

   Postpartum psychosis is also a causative factor of infanticide. Stuart
   S. Asch, MD, a Professor of Psychiatry at Cornell University
   established the connections between some cases of infanticide and
   post-partum depression.^[170]^,^[171] The books, From Cradle to
   Grave,^[172] and The Death of Innocents,^[173] describe selected cases
   of maternal infanticide and the investigative research of Professor
   Asch working in concert with the New York City Medical Examiner's
   Office. Stanley Hopwood wrote that childbirth and lactation entail
   severe stress on the female sex, and that under certain circumstances
   attempts at infanticide and suicide are common.^[174] A study published
   in the American Journal of Psychiatry revealed that 44% of filicidal
   fathers had a diagnosis of psychosis.^[175] In addition to postpartum
   psychosis, dissociative psychopathology and sociopathy have also been
   found to be associated with neonaticide in some cases^[176]

   In addition, severe postpartum depression can lead to

  Sex selection[edit]

   Sex selection may be one of the contributing factors of infanticide. In
   the absence of sex-selective abortion, sex-selective infanticide^[dead
   link] can be deduced from very skewed birth statistics. The
   biologically normal sex ratio for humans at birth is approximately 105
   males per 100 females; normal ratios hardly ranging beyond
   102-108.^[178] When a society has an infant male to female ratio which
   is significantly higher or lower than the biological norm, and biased
   data can be ruled out, sex selection can usually be inferred.^[179]

Current law[edit]


   In New South Wales, infanticide is defined in Section 22A(1) of the
   Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as follows:^[180]

     Where a woman by any willful act or omission causes the death of her
     child, being a child under the age of twelve months, but at the time
     of the act or omission the balance of her mind was disturbed by
     reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving
     birth to the child or by reason of the effect of lactation
     consequent upon the birth of the child, then, notwithstanding that
     the circumstances were such that but for this section the offense
     would have amounted to murder, she shall be guilty of infanticide,
     and may for such offense be dealt with and punished as if she had
     been guilty of the offense of manslaughter of such child.

   Because Infanticide is punishable as manslaughter, as per s24,^[181]
   the maximum penalty for this offence is therefore 25 years

   In Victoria, infanticide is defined by Section 6 of the Crimes Act of
   1958 with a maximum penalty of five years.^[182]


   In Canada, infanticide is a specific offence under section 237 of the
   Criminal Code. It is defined as a form of culpable homicide which is
   neither murder nor manslaughter, and occurs when "a female person... by
   a wilful act or omission... causes the death of her newly-born child
   [defined as a child under one year of age], if at the time of the act
   or omission she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth
   to the child and by reason thereof or of the effect of lactation
   consequent on the birth of the child her mind is then disturbed."^[183]
   Infanticide is also a defence to murder, in that a person accused of
   murder who successfully presents the defence is entitled to be
   convicted of infanticide rather than murder.^[184]^[185] The maximum
   sentence for infanticide is five years' imprisonment; by contrast, the
   maximum sentence for manslaughter is life, and the mandatory sentence
   for murder is life.^[183]

   The offence derives from an offence created in English law in 1922,
   which aimed to address the issue of judges and juries who were
   reluctant to return verdicts of murder against women and girls who
   killed their newborns out of poverty, depression, the shame of
   illegitimacy, or otherwise desperate circumstances, since the mandatory
   sentence was death (even though in those circumstances the death
   penalty was likely not to be carried out). With infanticide as a
   separate offence with a lesser penalty, convictions were more likely.
   The offence of infanticide was created in Canada in 1948.^[184]

   There is ongoing debate in the Canadian legal and political fields
   about whether section 237 of the Criminal Code should be amended or
   abolished altogether.^[186]

  England and Wales[edit]

   In England and Wales, the Infanticide Act 1938 describes the offense of
   infanticide as one which would otherwise amount to murder (by his/her
   mother) if the victim was older than 12 months and the mother was not
   suffering from an imbalance of mind due to the effects of childbirth or
   lactation. Where a mother who has killed such an infant has been
   charged with murder rather than infanticide s.1(3) of the Act confirms
   that a jury has the power to find alternative verdicts of Manslaughter
   in English law or guilty but insane.

  The Netherlands[edit]

   Main article: Groningen Protocol

   Infanticide is illegal in the Netherlands, although the maximum
   sentence is lower than for homicide. The Groningen Protocol regulates
   euthanasia for infants who are believed to "suffer hopelessly and
   unbearably" under strict conditions.^[citation needed]


   Article 200 of the Penal Code of Romania stipulates that the killing of
   a newborn during the first 24 hours, by the mother who is in a state of
   mental distress, shall be punished with imprisonment of one to five
   years.^[187] The previous Romanian Penal Code also defined infanticide
   (pruncucidere) as a distinct criminal offense, providing for punishment
   of two to seven years imprisonment,^[188] recognizing the fact that a
   mother's judgment may be impaired immediately after birth but did not
   define the term "infant", and this had led to debates regarding the
   precise moment when infanticide becomes homicide. This issue was
   resolved^[how?] by the new Penal Code, which came into force in 2014.

  United States[edit]

   Further information: Born-Alive Infants Protection Act and Born alive
   laws in the United States

   While legislation regarding infanticide in the majority of Western
   countries focuses on rehabilitation, believing that treatment and
   education will prevent repetitive action, the United States remains
   focused on delivering punishment. One justification for punishment is
   the difficulty of implementing rehabilitation services. With an
   overcrowded prison system, the United States can not provide the
   necessary treatment and services.^[189]

    State Legislation[edit]

   In 2009, Texas state representative Jessica Farrar proposed legislation
   that would define infanticide as a distinct and lesser crime than
   homicide.^[190] Under the terms of the proposed legislation, if jurors
   concluded that a mother's "judgment was impaired as a result of the
   effects of giving birth or the effects of lactation following the
   birth", they would be allowed to convict her of the crime of
   infanticide, rather than murder.^[191] The maximum penalty for
   infanticide would be two years in prison.^[191] Farrar's introduction
   of this bill prompted liberal bioethics scholar Jacob M. Appel to call
   her "the bravest politician in America".^[191]

    Federal Legislation[edit]

   The MOTHERS Act (Moms Opportunity To access Health, Education, Research
   and Support), precipitated by the death of a Chicago woman with
   postpartum psychosis was introduced in 2009. The act was ultimately
   incorporated into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which
   passed in 2010. The act requires screening for postpartum mood
   disorders at any time of the adult lifespan as well as expands research
   on postpartum depression. Provisions of the act also authorize grants
   to support clinical services for women who have, or are at risk for,
   postpartum psychosis.^[192]


  Sex education and birth control[edit]

   Since infanticide, especially neonaticide, is often a response to an
   unwanted birth,^[139] preventing unwanted pregnancies through improved
   sex education and increased contraceptive access are advocated as ways
   of preventing infanticide.^[193] Increased use of contraceptives and
   access to safe legal abortions^[8]^[141]^: 122-23 have greatly reduced
   neonaticide in many developed nations. Some say that where abortion is
   illegal, as in Pakistan, infanticide would decline if safer legal
   abortions were available.^[135]

  Psychiatric intervention[edit]

   Cases of infanticide have also garnered increasing attention and
   interest from advocates for the mentally ill as well as organizations
   dedicated to postpartum disorders. Following the trial of Andrea Yates,
   a mother from the United States who garnered national attention for
   drowning her 5 children, representatives from organizations such as the
   Postpartum Support International and the Marce Society for Treatment
   and Prevention of Postpartum Disorders began requesting clarification
   of diagnostic criteria for postpartum disorders and improved guidelines
   for treatments. While accounts of postpartum psychosis have dated back
   over 2,000 years ago, perinatal mental illness is still largely
   under-diagnosed despite postpartum psychosis affecting 1 to 2 per 1000
   women.^[194]^[195] However, with clinical research continuing to
   demonstrate the large role of rapid neurochemical fluctuation in
   postpartum psychosis, prevention of infanticide points ever strongly
   towards psychiatric intervention.^[citation needed]

   Screening for psychiatric disorders or risk factors, and providing
   treatment or assistance to those at risk may help prevent
   infanticide.^[196] Current diagnostic considerations include symptoms,
   psychological history, thoughts of self-harm or harming one's children,
   physical and neurological examination, laboratory testing, substance
   abuse, and brain imaging. As psychotic symptoms may fluctuate, it is
   important that diagnostic assessments cover a wide range of
   factors.^[citation needed]

   While studies on the treatment of postpartum psychosis are scarce, a
   number of case and cohort studies have found evidence describing the
   effectiveness of lithium monotherapy for both acute and maintenance
   treatment of postpartum psychosis, with the majority of patients
   achieving complete remission. Adjunctive treatments include
   electroconvulsive therapy, antipsychotic medication, or
   benzodiazepines. Electroconvulsive therapy, in particular, is the
   primary treatment for patients with catatonia, severe agitation, and
   difficulties eating or drinking. Antidepressants should be avoided
   throughout the acute treatment of postpartum psychosis due to risk of
   worsening mood instability.^[197]

   Though screening and treatment may help prevent infanticide, in the
   developed world, significant proportions of neonaticides that are
   detected occur in young women who deny their pregnancy and avoid
   outside contacts, many of who may have limited contact with these
   health care services.^[139]

  Safe surrender[edit]

   In some areas baby hatches or safe surrender sites, safe places for a
   mother to anonymously leave an infant, are offered, in part to reduce
   the rate of infanticide. In other places, like the United States,
   safe-haven laws allow mothers to anonymously give infants to designated
   officials; they are frequently located at hospitals and police and fire
   stations. Additionally, some countries in Europe have the laws of
   anonymous birth and confidential birth that allow mothers to give up an
   infant after birth. In anonymous birth, the mother does not attach her
   name to the birth certificate. In confidential birth, the mother
   registers her name and information, but the document containing her
   name is sealed until the child comes to age. Typically such babies are
   put up for adoption, or cared for in orphanages.^[198]


   Granting women employment raises their status and autonomy. Having a
   gainful employment can raise the perceived worth of females. This can
   lead to an increase in the number of women getting an education and a
   decrease in the number of female infanticide. As a result, the infant
   mortality rate will decrease and economic development will

In animals[edit]

   Main article: Infanticide (zoology)

   Occurs with animals, such as in Hanuman langurs.

   The practice has been observed in many other species of the animal
   kingdom since it was first seriously studied by Yukimaru
   Sugiyama.^[200] These include from microscopic rotifers and insects, to
   fish, amphibians, birds and mammals, including primates such as chacma

   According to studies carried out by Kyoto University in primates,
   including certain types of gorillas and chimpanzees, several conditions
   favor the tendency to kill their offspring in some species (to be
   performed only by males), among them are: Nocturnal life, the absence
   of nest construction, the marked sexual dimorphism in which the male is
   much larger than the female, the mating in a specific season and the
   high period of lactation without resumption of the estrus state in the

See also[edit]

   Wikimedia Commons has media related to Infanticide.

     * Child euthanasia
     * The Cruel Mother
     * Female perversion
     * Filicide
     * Margaret Garner
     * Jenufa (opera by Leos Janacek)
     * List of countries by infant mortality rate
     * La Llorona (Mexican legend)
     * Medea (Euripides' play)
     * Miyuki Ishikawa
     * A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift
     * Overlaying, child-smothering during carer's sleep
     * Sudden infant death syndrome


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Further reading[edit]

     * Backhouse, Constance B. "Desperate women and compassionate courts:
       infanticide in nineteenth-century Canada." University of Toronto
       Law Journal 34.4 (1984): 447-78 online.
     * Bechtold, Brigitte H., and Donna Cooper Graves. "The ties that
       bind: Infanticide, gender, and society." History Compass 8.7
       (2010): 704-17.
     * Donovan, James M. "Infanticide and the Juries in France,
       1825-1913." Journal of family history 16.2 (1991): 157-76.
     * Feng, Wang; Campbell, Cameron; Lee, James. "Infant and Child
       Mortality among the Qing Nobility." Population Studies (Nov 1994)
       48#3 pp. 395-411; many upper-class Chinese couples regularly used
       infanticide to control the number and sex of their infants.
     * Giladi, Avner. "Some observations on infanticide in medieval Muslim
       society." International Journal of Middle East Studies 22.2 (1990):
       185-200 online.
     * Hoffer, Peter, and N.E.H. Hull. Murdering Mothers: Infanticide in
       England and America, 1558-1803 (1981).
     * Kilday, A. A History of Infanticide in Britain, c. 1600 to the
       Present (Springer, 2013).
     * Langer, William L. "Infanticide: A historical survey." History of
       Childhood Quarterly: the Journal of Psychohistory 1.3 (1974):
     * Leboutte, Rene. "Offense against family order: infanticide in
       Belgium from the fifteenth through the early twentieth centuries."
       Journal of the History of Sexuality 2.2 (1991): 159-85.
     * Lee, Bernice J. "Female infanticide in China." Historical
       Reflections/Reflexions Historiques (1981): 163-77 online.
     * Lewis, Margaret Brannan. Infanticide and abortion in early modern
       Germany (Routledge, 2016).
     * Mays, Simon. "Infanticide in Roman Britain." Antiquity 67.257
       (1993): 883-88.
     * Mungello, David Emil. Drowning girls in China: Female infanticide
       since 1650 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
     * Oberman, Michelle. "Mothers who kill: coming to terms with modern
       American infanticide." American Criminal Law Review 34 (1996) pp:
       1-110 online.
     * Pomeroy, Sarah B. "Infanticide in Hellenistic Greece" in A. Cameron
       and A. Kuhrt, eds., Images of women in antiquity (Wayne State Univ
       Press, 1983), pp 207-222.
     * Rose, Lionel. Massacre of the Innocents: Infanticide in Great
       Britain 1800-1939 (1986).
     * Wheeler, Kenneth H. "Infanticide in nineteenth-century Ohio."
       Journal of Social History (1997): 407-18 online.

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