The preference for male babies in some cultures means that baby girls are being killed either before birth (abortions) or after birth (Infanticide).
The term “Infanticide” can be defined as “the unlawful killing of very young children. It is found in both indigenous and sophisticated cultures around the world”. Female infanticide is the deliberate and unlawful killing of baby girls. The practice of female infanticide is common in countries such as India, Pakistan, South Korea, Middle East, North Africa and China.
Reasons for female infanticide vary but it is often for financial reasons, countries known to promote such practices are often bias against females in general and do not promote equality between males and females. It is important to know that female infanticide is not a religious practice. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism do not promote or encourage this practice.
Throughout history, infanticide was a practice used to control population and poverty. Historically, it was regarded as an effective way of controlling starvation and over population of communities.
According to BBC (2014), societies known to practice this view also consider females as powerless and homemakers, it is believed that men are employable and able to better support the economy. For this reason they are less likely to be killed.
The cultural pressures from particular communities mean that “some British women of Asian origin travel to India for abortions to avoid having a girl”.
Female babies are killed to avoid dowry payments as these payments consist of large sums of money. This practice has prevalence in some Indian communities as daughters are sometimes considered to be financial burdens.
In some societies, parents and older relatives depend on their children to care for them when they are old. Women often leave the family home to join her husband’s family when married which is seen as beneficial for the males’ family. Males’ babies are therefore preferred, as females are a “waste of resources and time”.
What are the consequences of female infanticide?
The practice of female infanticide reinforces that females are inferior to males. This gender imbalance increases the risk of forced marriages, female rape and trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation.
What does the law say about infanticide?
In the UK the, Infanticide Act 1938 states that “Where a woman by any wilful 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, [if] the circumstances were such that but for this Act the offence would have amounted to murder [or manslaughter], she shall be guilty of felony, to wit of infanticide, and may for such offence be dealt with and punished as if she had been guilty of the offence of manslaughter of the child”. If found guilty of this crime, individual can face life imprisonment. Infanticide is a crime!
Women are being abused and forced to get kill their children, some are assaulted, controlled and emotionally abused. The practice of female infanticide is unacceptable and needs to stop.
Where do I go for help if I feel pressured by my community to kill my daughter?
In the UK, you can contact The National Domestic Helpline on 0808 2000 247 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This organisation works in partnership with women’s aid who are able to assist victims with safe accommodation. In cases of emergency please call 999.
References and Further Reading