Motherhood and infanticide: the point of view of criminal law

Author/s Matilde Betti
Publishing Year 2012 Issue 2012/3
Language Italian Pages 10 P. 97-106 File size 1669 KB
DOI 10.3280/RSF2012-003006
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Neonaticide has always existed, either as a form of birth control or as a way to avoid the scandal associated with out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Today, this phenomenon is still present and, it’s frequency is probably underestimated. Nowadays, it is easier to hide a corpse or to mask the crime under the label: ‘sudden infant death syndrome’. Clinical criminology distinguishes neonaticide from filicide by utilizing the following criteria: chronological, psychological, social and statistical. Filicide implies the killing of a child older than one year, neonaticide regards newborn. In these circumstances, giving birth is usually unattended and the mother is frequently young, immature, unemployed or in education. These mothers usually express hostile or alien feelings towards their baby. Only in a small number of cases, these crimes are considered the consequence of mental illness. They are frequently the result of: excessively strict disciplinary actions, the quest for personal advantages, ideological convictions, social pressure, carelessness, or seeking revenge against the partner. Each offence has different dynamics, hence the first step towards prevention consists in improving the comprehension of these dynamics and giving priority to "high-risk" situations.

Keywords: Neonaticide, infanticide, postpartum depression

Matilde Betti, Maternità e infanticidio: lo sguardo del diritto penale in "RIVISTA SPERIMENTALE DI FRENIATRIA" 3/2012, pp 97-106, DOI: 10.3280/RSF2012-003006