Forum Index
A Community of Worldbuilders
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Birth-Order-Sensitive Female Infanticide

This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies. Forum Index -> World & Culture
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 2027
Location: Bungula Qintaurion, Toliman

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:49 am    Post subject: Birth-Order-Sensitive Female Infanticide Reply with quote

See .

Imagine a human culture, in certain ways much like Henrician England, or more generally Renaissance Europe.

Suppose they practice birth-order-sensitive female infanticide.

What would or could that be like?

Maybe noöne wants or is expected to keep and raise a daughter until they have a son.

Maybe there’s also a rule that noöne should keep a second daughter until they have a second son.
Or maybe that second rule applies only to aristocratic or landed or noble or rich or titled families.
Maybe there’s just no such rule for middle-class-and-lower commoners; or maybe all or some middle-class commoners instead follow a rule not to keep a third daughter until they have a second son.

I don’t see the point in a rule that one shouldn’t keep and raise a third daughter until one has a third son. Maybe there is such a rule, but maybe it’s slightly relaxed, to say one shouldn’t keep and raise a fourth (fifth?) daughter until one has a third son.

Possibly there are limits to how often a parent might commit infanticide.
Maybe (nearly) everyone would, with increasing reluctance, obey the rule up to three times, if necessary. Maybe about half of the parents would refuse to commit infanticide a fourth time; but the other half would (reluctantly) go along with the rule a fourth time, if necessary. Maybe nobody would obey the rule a fifth time.

————— ————— ————— ————— —————

More later, maybe. I have the feeling I had another train of thought to pursue, but I can’t be sure I really did.
"We're the healthiest horse in the glue factory" - Erskine Bowles, Co-Chairman of the deficit reduction commission
I am also eldin raigmore.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 2027
Location: Bungula Qintaurion, Toliman

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:10 pm    Post subject: Some possible reasons behind female infanticide. Reply with quote

See .

Residence patterns can influence parents’ preference for one sex of child rather than the other — sons over daughters or vice-versa.
If only sons can inherit; and all sons remain living on and working on their family’s property even after marriage; and heirs remain living in their parents’ house even after marriage; then sons, especially the heir (the first son in the case of male primogeniture, the youngest son in the case of male ultimogeniture, or the second son in the case of male secondogeniture), contribute to their parents’ security against old age.

In contrast to the various hypothetical (fictional?) patterns of birth-order-sensitive female infanticide I described above in previous posts to this thread, where a girl baby wouldn’t be kept and cared for and raised unless she had more older brothers than older sisters; real-life female infanticide seems to fall most heavily on later-born daughters, rather than earlier-born daughters. Apparently it is rare for the firstborn daughter to be aborted or killed or neglected or abandoned.

Like my hypotheses, however, it seems the higher-caste the family is, the more prone to female infanticide or “foeticide” (i.e. selective abortion) or “indirect infanticide” (i.e. neglect or abandonment) they are likely to be. Untouchables’ only capital asset is their labor, and a girl’s labor is still valuable. (Which does not at all make Harijan families paragons of sexual equality!). Any land-owning family might feel pressure to at least invest more parental care and attention in their sons than in their daughters. Other castes, who do own capital, but not land, often also feel such pressure, but less so than the land-owning classes.
Strangely (or, at least, it struck me as strange), land-owning upper-caste families, including mothers, don’t feel that two sons is enough sons to feel secure. It seems a large majority want also a third son, and either a majority or a significantly large minority want a fourth son. (If I’m wrong, I welcome correction! Especially with a citation! Especially especially with a citation available online!)
The fewer sons a mother has, and the more daughters she has, the less she will want another daughter. This can lead to a situation in which a woman with two or three sons and one or two daughters, aborts or kills three or four or more girl babies consecutively, in an effort to bear a third or fourth son. If she doesn’t want to do the deed, her relatives may force her, or commit the act themselves.

Regardless of any preference for sons over daughters, people of limited means regard multiple births as unlucky. (I assume triplets or more are considered especially unlucky, but I haven’t read any academic studies about that.) Responses in poor or technologically-disadvantaged societies range through:
* just pitying the family for their bad luck;
* killing or abandoning one of the twins;
* killing both of the twins;
* killing both of the twins and their mother.

People of limited means sometimes also won’t raise a baby born while an older sibling is still suckling.

In places where sons are markedly preferred over daughters, daughters are often weaned earlier than sons. Also, there’s less time between a daughter’s birth and the next pregnancy, than between a son’s birth and the next pregnancy.

China’s one-child policy led to a major uptick in female infanticide. Since they allowed three children for rural families, or four if the first three were all daughters, it’s clear female infanticide was not a rural-only problem.

The availability of ultrasonograms capable of determining a fetus’s gender before birth, led to increasing sex-selective abortions in various parts of India, rural and urban. Unfortunately possessing modern equipment doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. ObGyns and Radiologists untrained in ultrasonography have tried to use it on conceptuses younger than 16 weeks, instead of waiting until after the 18th week like they should. So their advice has resulted in the abortion of male babies by error. Amniocentesis seems to be less popular than ultrasonography.
Existence of high-tech ways to prenatally determine the sex of the baby, coexists with very low-tech and unsafe methods of abortion, such as beating the mother until she miscarries.

Telling that the mother is pregnant with twins or more, is lower-tech than determining the unborn baby’s sex. Women may selectively abort twins.

For some reason the news has not spread that the baby’s sex is determined by the father’s sperm rather than by anything to do with the mother. Women continue to get blamed for having too many girls and not enough boys. Men may take a second wife, and even also divorce their first wife, if she hasn’t borne a son, or not enough sons, or not soon enough; or has borne too many daughters, or for too long. (Thus acting like Henry VIII Tudor.) And a woman’s mother-in-law may pressure her son to divorce her (the woman) if she (the mother-in-law) finds out she (the daughter-in-law) is pregnant with twin girls.

There are two safe and economical technologies available in rural India to end the risk of further pregnancies; both have to do with tubes. A woman can have her Fallopian tubes ligated (tied), or a man can have his vas deferens clipped or tied or blocked. Although men may be just as tired of having more daughters, or more children generally, as women, for some reason tubal ligations outnumber vasectomies by about 60 to 1.
Women usually undergo voluntary sterilization upon the birth of their last son; that is, as soon as they think they have enough sons. This means that the sex-ratio of sons to daughters among lastborn children, is quite unnaturally high. (Except among Dalits.)


In my two oldest concultures, Adpihi and its descendant Reptigan, land and fixed assets tend to belong to the “milkhouse”, the matriclan. Or at least that was so thru Early Reptigan; it might not be true anymore by Middle Reptigan.
So if a (almost necessarily female!) landholder wants an heir(ess), she wants a daughter, though she may be satisfied with a sister’s daughter. I imagine she’d want at least two, to be safe.

Fixed assets might not be that big a deal in Early Adpihi. Earning a living might be something a man has to do “on the move”, for the most part, up through Middle Adpihi. So portable goods and equipment, and maybe later or maybe to a lesser extent livestock and rolling stock, might get passed father-to-son. They’ll be the property of the “bloodpath”, the patriclan. A man who wants an heir will want a son; tho’ he might be satisfied with a brother’s son. To feel secure he’d probably want two.
Beginning in Middle Adpihi, and growing to be dominant by “late” Late Adpihi, and continuing at least thru “late” Middle or “early” Late Reptigan, the entrepreneurial way of living will grow common. When this happens a testator’s wealth is likely to be mostly capital which can be divided equally among his or her heirs. Though that won’t be true of factories or farms or other productive land or dairies or residences owned by “milk-houses”.

Magical power (if people believe in it), (maybe rolling stock? or maybe not?), intellectual property such as trademarks, service marks, copyrights, patents, works of art, and clothes and textiles, and some of the equipment for making them, are the property of the “robe”, that is, the alternating descent-group. A male owner’s heirs will be his daughters; a female owner’s heirs will be her sons. While many of these items won’t be truly divisible, it will be possible in many cases to divide ownership of the items into shares, and distribute the shares to more than one heir.

A grandfather will consider both his sons’ sons and his daughters’ sons as potential heirs. He’ll probably want at least two of each.
A grandmother will consider both her daughters’ daughters and her sons’ daughters as potential heirs. She’ll probably want at least two of each.

Beginning in Early Reptigan there will begin awareness that overpopulation might be a problem, and that returning to space might be a good idea and a possibility. In Middle Reptigan steps will be actively taken.

They’ll have made several missions to their planet’s satellite, and will be planning colonies on their nearest, nearest-to-inhabitable, neighboring planets in their star’s system. There’ll also be talk about “O’Neiil” colonies in the satellite’s L4 and L5 Lagrangian liberation points.

In Middle and Late Reptigan, laws limiting the numbers of children, sons, daughters, grandchildren, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandchildren, great-grandsons, and great-granddaughters, will be enacted and enforced. Means will be set up to straiten or loosen these limits as it becomes appropriate to do so.
Late Reptigan parents will be able to select the sex of their offspring before conception. They’ll probably also be able to decide whether they want a single birth, or twins. What they want may depend on what the laws are at the time; and how many of which kind of children their siblings have; and other things I might work out.


The need for infanticide will be regarded as a tragedy. It should become less and less common on Adpihi as its history advances, and have pretty much disappeared by Late Adpihi, before Reptigan even starts. But, as Reptigan begins colonizing space, it may show up again in the off-Adpihi colonies, due to misfortunes.


Whatcha think?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies. Forum Index -> World & Culture All times are GMT + 2 Hours
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group