ISSUES - Infanticide


Infanticide is the intentional killing of an infant, and in some cultures, includes the death of a child beyond one year of age either through direct action or through neglect and malnutrition. Children born with serious developmental or mental disabilities or serious illness and newborn baby girls are at risk of infanticide worldwide.

In a number of Asian cultures with a male child preference, infant girls are targeted for death or abandonment in female infanticide, an act of femicide or gendercide— extermination based on sex (gender). A male child preference, compounded by the one-child per couple population control policy in China and the dowry system in India, has led to the deaths of millions of newborn baby girls who are killed shortly after birth.

Sex-selective infanticide, combined with sex-selective abortion, has resulted in a global phenomenon of “missing girls”. A 2010 report released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) entitled Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific reports, “…Asia has the highest male-female sex ratio at birth in the world, with sex-selective abortion and infanticide leaving a trail of 96 million ‘missing’ women in some countries.” Some estimates place the number of “missing girls” even higher.

Infanticide is also practiced in some indigenous cultures to babies who manifest disability or abnormality, based on beliefs that these infants do not have a soul, are cursed and pose a threat to the tribe. Some tribal customs demand the death of a child by his or her mother or other family members; families face expulsion from the tribe if they refuse to kill the child. Children who are born twins, are born in the breech position, have a birth mark, and are born to unmarried mothers are at risk of death by abandonment in the Amazon rain forest, poisoning or suffocation. Even older children who exhibit physical or mental disability may be targeted for death.

The disregard for a child’s innate right to life through the practice of infanticide is compared by proponents to abortion. An article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" suggests that newborns—just like children in the womb—are not yet persons and consequently, without rights or interests. The authors assert that "after-birth abortion" should be permissible for any reason that abortion is permitted. The paper states, "We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk."

PNCI believes that the right to life is absolute and cannot be violated due to age, sex, race, ethnicity, disability, creed, stage of development, or condition of dependency. PNCI opposes all forms of infanticide, works to raise awareness of this human rights violation, and supports legislation to stop this horrific practice of child destruction.


All Girls Allowed

Gendercide Watch: Female Infanticide


Paper: “After-birth abortion”; Outrage grows

Report: Power, Voice and Rights A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific

The Rhema Project