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Author: Kumari Muskan, II Year of B.A.,LL B from Sai Nath University.


Infanticide in India has a history that lasts for centuries. Poverty, the lending system, the birth of unmarried women, infants with disabilities, starvation, lack of support services and birth defects such as postpartum depression are some of the factors suggested to explain the prevalence of female genital mutilation in India.

Although infanticide has become a crime in India, it is still a relatively low crime rate due to a lack of reliable data. In 2010, the National Crime Records Bureau reported nearly 100 infant and female infanticide, producing a legal rate of less than one million child murders per million.

The Indian practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and gender-based abortions have been cited to partially describe gender inequality reported as increasingly perverted since the 1991 Census of India, although there may be other factors that may contribute to this practice.


Section 315 of the Indian Penal Code defines infanticide as infanticide in a group of 0–1 years. The code uses this definition to distinguish between infanticide and many other crimes against children, such as mythology and murder.

Some infanticide publications use a legal definition. Others, such as the collaborators of Renu Dube, Reena Dube and Rashmi Bhatnagar, who describe themselves as "postcolonial female fans", find a wide range of infanticide, using it from child murder to female genital mutilation at unspecified years. Barbara Miller, a biologist, "for simplicity" used the term to refer to all the harmless deaths of children between the ages of 15-16, traditionally considered the years when childhood ends in rural India. He notes that the act of killing infants can be "direct", such as physical assault, or taking the form of "action" through actions such as neglect and hunger. Neonaticide, the death of a baby within 24 hours of birth, is sometimes considered a separate study



The British people of India first became aware of the practice of killing female children in 1789, during the period of the Company Law. It was noted among members of the Rajput family by Jonathan Duncan, then a resident of the Company in Jaunpur in the region now north of Uttar Pradesh. Later, in 1817, officials noted that the practice was so entrenched that there were Jadeja Rajputs songs in Gujarat when there were no female children in the family. In the middle of the 19th century, a magistrate living in the northwest of the country stated that for a few centuries no daughter had ever been raised in the Rajahs of Mynpoorie castles and that was after the intervention of the Regional Collector. in 1845 did the ruler of Rajput save the daughter alive. The British have identified other high-profile communities such as workers in the north, west and inland; these include Ahirs, Bedis, Gurjar, Jats, Khatris, Lewa Kanbis, Mohyal Brahmin and Patidars.

According to Marvin Harris, another anthropologist and among the first proponents of cultural materialism, this legal killing of children took place only between the Rajputs and other top groups of landowners and heroes. The reason was mainly economic, lying in the desire not to divide the land and wealth between many heirs and to avoid paying bribes. Sisters and daughters would marry men of the same status and thus challenge the combination of wealth and power, while concubines and their children would not and thus be allowed to live. He also said that the need for heroes in pre-industrial societies meant that women's children were not respected, and the combination of war casualties and the killing of children served as a necessary way to control the population.

Sociobiologists have a different theory than Harris. Indeed, his theory and interest in the subject of infanticide stems from his general opposition to the socialist view of reproductive responsibility. According to this coercive theory, based on the 19th century theory of evolution-based definitions and its evolutionary basis, the biological differences between men and women meant that more children could be acquired among others with support. male offspring, its fecundity naturally was very large: the line would spread and grow very large. Harris believes this is a lie because the elite had enough wealth to feed both male and female children. Thus, Harris and others, such as William Divale, view female genital mutilation as a way to limit population growth, while sociologists like Mildred Dickemann view the same practice as a means of increasing it.

Another anthropologist, Kristen Hawkes, has both criticized the theory. On the other hand, arguing with Harris, he says that both of them 'quickest way to get more heroic men would be to have more women give birth to children and that having more women in the area would increase the chances of marrying other tribes. Contrary to the theory of fertility, he points out that the affluence of some rich people like those in northern India who want to increase fertility is that poor people may want to reduce and thus in theory should be killing male children, which they seem to have done.

Reliability of colonial reports on child murder

There is no gender balance data in India before the colonial period. Since the British people relied on high-quality local communities for tax collection and law enforcement, the authorities were initially reluctant to look too deep into their private affairs, such as the practice of infanticide. Although this changed in the 1830s, doubts resurfaced after the tragic events of the Indian Revolution of 1857, which led to the domination of the East India Company by British Raj. In 1857, John Cave Browne, a clergyman serving in the Presidency of Bengal, reported to Major Goldney that speculation that the practice of killing female children among the Jats in the Punjab province stemmed from "Malthusian intent." [18] In the state of Gujarat, the first cited examples of gender inequality between the Lewa Patidars and the Kanbis dates back to 1847. These archives have been questioned by modern scholars, as seen from afar and those who made the recordings did not meet with their subjects to understand the social, economic, and cultural issues they faced that might influence their actions. Browne documented his assumptions about the assassination of female children using the "they tell" rumor. Bernard Cohn states that British citizens in India always avoided accusing an individual or family of killing children as it was difficult to present evidence in court, despite speculation that all ethnic groups or civil society organizations were killing female children. "Thus the infanticide of women became a 'mathematical crime'" during Indian colonial rule,

In addition to numerous reports and correspondence regarding the murder of children from colonial authorities, there were also letters from Christian missionaries. Many of these missionaries were also foreign scholars who wrote on Indian ethnography during their time there. Many missionaries despised India and its culture, describing it as ignorant and corrupt. Many scholars have questioned the historical record of the killing of female children in India, as reported by people who despised Indian culture, and the killing of female children is one of the reasons for their racist views. Many have realized that the rate of infanticide of women was no different in India than in parts of Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some Christian missionaries of the late 19th century, writes Daniel Gray, erroneously believed that the killing of female children was authorized by the Hindu and Islamic scriptures, and that Christianity "had for hundreds of years after the conquest."

location and direct method

Miller's review of the scholarship has shown that the majority of female genital mutilation in India during colonial times took place in the northwest, and that it was widespread although not all groups practiced the practice. David Arnold, a member of the subaltern study group who has used many sources at the time, says a variety of infants were used, including those with a good reputation including opium poisoning, strangulation and choking. Toxic substances such as plumbago rosea root and arsenic were used for abortion, and the latter were also used as an aphrodisiac and to treat male impotence. The act of killing children directly among the Rajputs was usually perpetrated by women, usually the mother herself or the nurse. Poison management, in any case, was a form of murder particularly related to women; Arnold describes it as "usually murder by a lawyer", the man comes out of the ceremony and thus is able to declare himself innocent.

The passage of the Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870 made the practice illegal in the British Indian provinces of Punjab and the North West provinces. The Governor-General of India had the authority to extend the Act to other provinces at his discretion.

impact of famines on infacticides

A severe famine occurred in India every five to eight years in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which led to millions starving to death. As was the case in China, these incidents marked the beginning of infanticide: parents starving to death could kill a poor baby, sell a child to buy food for the whole family, or beg people to take them for free and feed them. Gupta and Shuzhou point out that extreme hunger and historical events associated with poverty have contributed to historically gender inequalities, and have had profound cultural implications for girls and regional attitudes about female child mortality.

impact of economic policies on infacticides

According to Mara Hvistendahl, documents left by colonial authorities following India's independence showed a direct link between East India Company's tax policies and an increase in the number of murders of female children.

Regional and religious statistics

India's census from 1881 to 1941 recorded a variable rate when the number of men exceeded the number of women. Gender differences were particularly high in the northern and western regions of India, with the total gender ratio - 100 per 100 males - between 110.2 and 113.7 in the north over a 60-year period, with 105.8 to 109.8 males per 100 women western India for all ages. Visaria states that the shortage of women among Muslims was significantly higher, near Sikhs only. The Southern India region has been different in reporting overweight women as a whole, experts say in part to male emigration and regional matriarchy practice.

Complete gender ratios, as well as transgender men, in various regions were very high among the Muslim population in India from 1881 to 1941, and the gender ratio of each region corresponded to the Muslim population, with the exception of the eastern Indian state where the overall gender ratio was lower. of Muslims in the community. If the regions that are now part of modern Pakistan are excluded (Baluchistan, North West Frontier, Sind for example), Visaria states that regional gender equals and the whole of India during the 1881-1941 period are favorable for women, a small gap between men and women.


Infant homicide in India, and elsewhere in the world, is a difficult issue to access properly because reliable data is not available. Scrimshaw argues that not only are cases of infidelity known to infants significant, the differential treatment between male infants and infants is even more ambiguous data. Reliable infanticide data for women is not available. Its frequency, as well as that of gender-specific abortions, is indirectly measured in the observed high birth rate; that is, the average for boys and girls at birth or newborns from 0–1, or the average age of a child in the 0–6 age group. The natural dose is thought to be 106, or somewhere between 103 and 107, and any number above or below this range is considered to suggest a combination of female or male therapies respectively.

Higher sex rates than India have been reported over the past 20 years in China, Pakistan, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and other Southeast European countries, and in part are said to be responsible for infanticide, among other factors. There is an ongoing debate over the cause of high sex rates in the 0–1 and 0–6 age groups in India. Suggested reasons for high birth rate gender include the killing of women of the region using amniocentesis regardless of income or poverty due to patrilineal culture, low birth rate of women, small family size and preferred family size. once a male is born.

Sheetal Ranjan reports that the total number of infant and female infanticide reported in India was 139 in 1995, 86 in 2005 and 111 in 2010; The 2010 National Crime Records Bureau provides statistics 100. Experts say that the killing of children is a rare crime.

Reports of regional cases of infanticide have appeared in the media, such as those in Usilampatti south of Tamil Nadu.

One of the main reasons for the increase in female child mortality is associated with the proliferation of private Ultrasound Scanning institutions that often refer to the sex of the child, and as they become more accessible and affordable people who can historically find child sex. , they have started to get it and it often leads to abortion when there is a baby girl.


Extreme poverty and inability to pay for child rearing is one of the reasons given for infanticide in India.

The lobola program in India is another reason given for the murder of female children. Although India has taken steps to end the practice of bribery, the practice continues, and in poor families in rural areas the murder of female children and abortions based on fear of not being able to pay the proper dowry and social exclusion.

Other major reasons given for infanticide, both women and men, include unwanted babies, such as those obtained after rape, children born to poor families, and those born to unwed mothers who have no reliable, safe and affordable birth control. Relationship difficulties, low income, lack of support associated with mental illness such as postpartum depression have also been reported as reasons for the murder of female children in India.

Elaine Rose in 1999 reported that the high mortality rate of women is related to poverty, infrastructure and ways to support your family, and that there has been an increase in the chances of a girl surviving a boy's chances of survival due to favorable rains. each year and the resulting ability to irrigate farms in rural India.

Ian Darnton-Hill et al. it means that the effects of malnutrition, especially micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies, are sexually dependent, and have a detrimental effect on female mortality.


In 1991 the Girl Child Protection Scheme was launched. This serves as a long-term financial stimulus, in which rural households must meet certain obligations such as maternal sterilization. Once the obligations are met, the state has set aside ₹ 2000 in the state coffers. The fund, which should grow to ₹ 10,000, is issued to a daughter at the age of 20: she can use it to get married or pursue higher education.

In 1992 the Government of India launched the "baby cradle scheme". This allows families to anonymously donate their child for adoption without following legal process. The program has been praised for potentially saving the lives of thousands of baby girls but has also been criticized by human rights groups, which say the program promotes child abandonment and strengthens the status quo among women. The program, which was piloted in Tamil Nadu, saw bags placed outside health facilities run by the government. The Prime Minister of Tamil Nadu added another motive, giving families with more than one daughter. A total of 136 girls were adopted for the first four years of the program. In 2000, 1,218 cases of female genital mutilation were reported, and the program was considered a failure and abandoned. It was reinstated the following year.

The 2011 census data showed a significant decline in the child sex ratio (CSR). Terrified by the decline, the Indian government launched the Beti Bachao program, Beti Padhao (BBBP). The program is aimed at preventing sexual discrimination and ensuring the survival, protection and education of girls.


The Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) wrote in its 2005 report, Women in an Insecure World, that during declining military casualties, "secret genocide" was perpetrated against women. [71] According to DCAF, the shortage of women who have died as a result of gender issues is at the same level as the estimated 191 million deaths in all conflicts in the 20th century. [72] In 2012, the documentary It's a Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World was released. This focuses on infanticide in China and India.

In 1991 Elisabeth Bumiller wrote May You be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India on the subject of infanticide. In the chapter on female genital mutilation, entitled No More Little Girls, he stated that the common cause of this practice “is not the wild beast's action in pagan society but the final act of poor, illiterate women who are forced to do what they think. it was best for them and their families. "

Gift of A Girl Female Infanticide is a 1998 film that explores the growing number of female child murders in southern India, as well as steps taken to help end the practice. The documentary won an award from the Association for Asian Studies


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