Infanticide is a word that comes from the Latin language, in-fans, meaning unable to speak, which it is commonly used as a more formal word for baby and cide child murder, (Webster, 2004.) Put it together and it translates to one who kills an infant. The full meaning is to kill the infant before or after birth, with the consent of the parent, family, or community, (CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, Infanticide, 2004) According to the French Criminal Code the word is limited to the murder of the new-born infant. In English it has been used for the deprivation of life from the moment of conception up to the age of two or three years. (wikipedia, 2004.) LAW:
Infanticide is an offence under section 233 of the Criminal Code. It says that a mother who causes the death of her new-born child by willful act or omission if at the time of the act her mind is disturbed because she has not recovered from the effects of childbirth is guilty of infanticide, (Department of Justice, 1998.) HISTORY:
Infanticide, like all killing, has been a part of human history for a long time. Many years ago, infants who were born defected were killed so as not to be a burden for the family. Survival was so hard to achieve back then, and there were not many resources to care for a sick child. Another way that people used infanticide was in the Dark Ages, when sorcery and witchcraft seized the minds of society. Infants born with the "sign of the devil" were killed; usually this sign was something as innocent as a birthmark or a birth defect such as a hare lip. The mothers of these children thought these children were evil and they believed that killing them was in accordance with God's wishes. Twins was also considered evil and slain at birth. Some cultures would just kill one of the babies and keep the other; in this situation one baby was killed because the parents would not be able to take care of two children. Infanticide was also done to the physically and mentally handicapped babies, babies that would grow up not being able to take care of themselves, (CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, Infanticide, 2004.) Infanticide certainly is common in many lands, and more females are killed than males' babies, if not handicapped or do not have the sign of the devil. The phenomenon of female infanticide has likely accounted for millions of gender-selective deaths throughout history. In many cultures, government permitted, if not encouraged, the killing of handicapped or female infants or otherwise unwanted children. In Greece 200 B.C., for example, the murder of female infants was so common that among 6,000 families living in Delphi no more than 1 percent had two daughters. Greece was not unusual, in eighty-four societies spanning the Renaissance to our time; defective children have been killed in one-third of them. In India, for example, because of Hindu beliefs and the rigid caste system, young girls were murdered as a matter of course. When demographic statistics were first collected in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that in some villages, no girl babies were found at all; in a total of thirty others, there were 343 boys to 54 girls. In Bombay, the number of girls alive in 1834 was 603, (Rummel, Death by Government.) Infanticide remains a critical concern in a number of "Third World" countries today, notably the two most populous countries on earth, China and India. In all cases, specifically female infanticide reflects the low status accorded to women in most parts of the world, (Rummel, Death by Government.) CHINA:
Chinese people choose to have boys most of the time because the culture dictates that when a girl marries she leaves her family and becomes part of her husband's family. For this reason Chinese people have for many centuries wanted a son to ensure there is someone to look after them in their old age. Having a boy child is the best pension a Chinese peasant can get. The Chinese government has taken steps to combat the practice...
George Woodcock (1969)
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