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Female Infanticide

There are 60 million fewer women in the world today than demographic trends had forecast. That's because at least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are "missing" from various populations, mostly in Asia, due to sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, neglect and inferior access to food and medicine.

Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and the low status accorded to women in many countries, most notably China and India, the two most populous countries on earth. The methods of extinction - including poisoning, throat slitting, starvation, exposure, smothering and drowning - illustrate the insignificance accorded to these young lives. According to Gendercide Watch, female infanticide is "arguably the most brutal and destructive manifestation of the anti-female bias that pervades 'patriarchal' societies."The practice is so widely accepted that one-fifth of Indian families in a recent study freely volunteered that they had "gotten rid" of unwanted female babies, despite it's official illegality.8Ironically, female infanticide is overwhelmingly committed by women.Because girl children are not valued highly in extremely patriarchal societies, which give little opportunity to women, many mothers cling to the justification that they are doing their newborn girls a favor by doing away with them.7 

As with female genital mutilation and "honor" killings, the religion of Islam is often scapegoated as an ideological source of justification for female infanticide. But, in fact, Islam prohibits killing of female infants, recognizing this act as murder and a sin.9 In China, the ancient practice of destroying female babies has continued into the modern age, propelled largely by the governmental "one-child policy" which penalizes families with extra children, thus implicitly encouraging the murder of girls.10

One result of "gendercide" in China is the huge imbalance it has created between male and female populations, which in turn stokes the market for the related trade in kidnapped and enslaved women.11 Other repercussions include the thousands of abandoned baby girls who end up in wretched, filthy "orphanages".12


The Chinese government denies any responsibility, insisting that female infanticide is outlawed and very rare. It blatantly lies about the "orphanages," describing them in glowing terms, when in reality they are horrific scenes of neglect, abandonment and death, with a 95% female inmate population, indisputable facts which have been verifiably documented on film.13

Actions, Information & Opportunities to Help
There are many websites -- both comprehensive and single-issue -- dedicated to informing and analyzing issues related to female infanticide. Below are resources including theoretical sociological works, cultural studies and multiple published news articles and campaign information pieces.

  • COCOA - Care Of China's Orphaned and Abandoned children
  • The Dying Rooms - Brian Woods' documentary about orphanage conditions in China
  • Gendercide Watch - working to raise awareness of gender-selective mass killing
  • Jubilee Action - Protecting children's rights worldwide
  • Women's Right In Islam (refuting Islamic support for infanticide) from the Islamic Voice

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