infanticide

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infanticide

(ĭnfăn`təsīd) [Lat.,=child murder], the putting to death of the newborn with the consent of the parent, family, or community. Infanticide often occurs among peoples whose food supply is insecure (e.g., the Chinese and the Eskimo). Female infanticide was common in some traditional patriarchal societies. In certain societies children who are deformed or are believed tainted by evil (e.g., twins) may be slain at birth. In Greece and ancient Rome a child was virtually its father's chattel—e.g., in Roman law, the Patria Potestas granted the father the right to dispose of his offspring as he saw fit. In Sparta the decision was made by a public official. Child sacrifice occurs in many traditional societies for religious reasons, but human sacrificial victims were generally appreciated members of society, unlike victims of infanticide, who were devalued. Christianity, like Islam and Judaism, condemns infanticide as murder, and in all countries the act is a crime. If infanticide served as a means of limiting family size, as many anthropologists believe, then the introduction of contraceptives, abortion, and other methods of population control may have rendered it obsolete.

infanticide

  1. the killing of infants soon after they are born. Several reasons have been identified for the practice of infanticide, especially in nonindustrial societies:
    1. a means of population control, particularly in times of trouble such as FAMINE or war;
    2. a means of eliminating children with undesirable or unacceptable characteristics, such as disabled or sick children. Plato proposed infanticide as an ideal, and the infanticide of ‘defective’ children was practised in Sparta;
    3. a means of eliminating children whose birth is considered TABOO, such as breech births and twins;
    4. a means of reinforcing patriarchal values and behaviour; in many nonindustrial societies it was the practice to kill, or allow to die, many more girls than boys.
  2. (in English law) the manslaughter of a child under the age of 12 months by the child's mother, according to the Infanticide Act of 1938.

Infanticide

Infertility (See BARRENNESS.)
Infidelity (See ADULTERY, CUCKOLDRY, FAITHLESSNESS.)
Astyanax
Hector’s infant son, thrown from the walls of Troy by the Greeks. [Gk. Myth.: Hamilton, 289]
Cronos
warned that a son would dethrone him, swallowed all his children at birth. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 237]
Sorrel, Hetty
leaves her illegitimate infant to die. [Br. Lit.: Eliot Adam Bede]
References in periodicals archive ?
that most infanticidal mothers committed "their crimes out of their
There are plausible explanations for why the true rate of infanticidal crime is uncertain, contested, and the subject of such widely varying estimates.
18) Compared to Jacobs's narrative, the passive infanticidal wish expressed in poems such as "Birth in the Slave's Hut" and "The Slave Mother" is a flattened construct of the complex, and often conflicted feelings a slave woman could have for her children.
when the nestlings were 18 days old), a second nestling was missing, perhaps due to a similar infanticidal attack.
Thus, the idea that a psychotic infanticidal mother is a subversive woman is very troubling.
When a new mother reports having infanticidal thoughts, how should one decide whether she poses an imminent danger to the child?
In this context, De Quincey's own imagined death is a natural product of an infanticidal culture that saturates his childhood experience.
The strips of leather used to bind Oedipus's feet subvert Jocasta's wish to bury the past, for the thongs are "witnesses" to her infanticidal plans to abandon him on a mountain slope to die, the "tendons" of his feet "pierced and fettered" (Sophocles 55).
Yet they have no tolerance for moderate abortion policies like informing parents when their children seek an abortion, banning the essentially infanticidal partial-birth abortions, or protecting the civil rights of healthcare professionals who follow the Hippocratic Oath.
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
One example that comes to mind here is the way in which Toni Morrison uses the Medea myth in her novel Beloved not to refute or alter the position of "woman" as inherently infanticidal but, rather, to demonstrate how an already "universal" myth invites all women to place themselves in the Medea role.