Infanticide is deliberately killing a child or an infant below the age of one year. This was a common practice in the past across the world, but it was even more familiar with African communities who practiced infanticide as a way to dispose unwanted children. It was mostly conducted on children born with disabilities, twins, albino children, female children and illegitimate births.
In the modern times infanticide is popular among children born with physical disabilities and chronic diseases. Most communities believe that killing a child with disability is a sign of love to the infant. They believe that they are protecting the child from future sufferings that are bound to happen considering their physical state. Others are of the opinion that children born with disabilities are cursed, possessed or as a result of the mothers sinful nature like adultery and therefore they have to be killed to prevent bad luck from occurring to the community.
A study was conducted by the Disability Rights International that indicated that, 45% of women with children who are disabled have felt the pressure of killing their children and the compulsion came from family members, friends and other members of the community. Two different ladies narrated on how they were pressured to kill their children and when they refused, they were chased out of their homes.
It’s even more shocking that immediate family members are the ones encouraging infanticide and worse still, they suggest the execution methods like, dehydration, starvation, suffocation, poisoning the child. A woman in Narok, Kenya shared her story and noted that her grandmother suggested to her that she should put needles in her child’s veins and the child will die slowly and no one would suspect her.
Most of the infanticide cases are rarely reported as they are done within the family set up, and when reported, they are reported as still birth or sickness. This act is illegal but it’s still tolerated in many communities across the world. It is believed to be a way of controlling the population, especially in China where they have a one child per household policy due to their large population. Others believe infanticide is an easy way of dealing with unwanted and illegitimate pregnancies.
A report on violence against women and girls done by the United Nations in 2007 estimated that 100 million girls worldwide had disappeared and 80 million of them were from China and India. The report also revealed that 41% of death among new born girls in India was as a result of infanticide.
This report is a clear indication that female infanticide is also very common in the modern world as the male child is perceived more valuable than the female child and that’s why women who come from communities that believe in such traditions, will have the pressure to kill their child if it’s a girl.
It should be noted that children have a right to live and to be protected from all forms of violations by the state, the community and their parents. Just like Mother Teresa said, ‘’the child is the beauty of God present in the world, that greatest gift to a family.”