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Why do parents kill their own child?

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Child murdering is a heinous crime in which parents murder their children either in the womb or after delivery. It may be either, prolicide, infanticide, neonaticide and feticide. Prolicide is the deliberate act of a parent killing their child over the age of 12 months. In neonaticide, the parent kills their child during the first 24 hours of life. In infanticide, the infant is killed after 24 hours of birth and before 12 months of age group by the parent. 

However, feticide, destruction or abortion of a fetus is allowed in Nepal if the fetus of up to twelve weeks is aborted, a fetus of up to Eighteen weeks caused by rape or incest, if the life of such a woman may be in danger or the physical or mental health may be deteriorated or a disabled child may be born or if the woman is suffering from HIV or other incurable diseases. In all these circumstances, the consent of a pregnant woman is a must.

Several cases regarding prolicide have occurred in the country.

Jaljala Lawati, 30, a resident of Panchthar killed the baby born out of an illicit affair and buried the baby in the community forest.

Ram Kishor Yadav,39, a resident of Naulapur Municipality-6 in Rautahat district killed his four-year-old daughter Laxmi Raya Yadav to claim life insurance (death claim).

Amrita, 17-year-old was killed by her parents. She was allegedly having an affair with Sosindra Paswan, and their relationship was deemed unsuitable and undesirable. The murder was perpetrated in order to keep intact the prestige and honor of the family in society.

Despite being married, the defendant, Fulmaya Magar, disgraced the marriage by having an illicit affair with Dev Kumar Magar. A girl child was later born as a result of an extramarital affair. Because of the impending shame, stigma and humiliation from society, the mother murdered a child and threw her into the river. The Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that she was entitled to life imprisonment along with confiscation of property.

In a case of homicide by poison administration, a mother who was despised by her husband and mother-in-law decided to commit suicide. But she feared that her children would suffer after her death and attempted to poison herself and her children. Although she and her daughter managed to survive, the son died. The Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that she should not be prosecuted with deliberate homicide because she administered poison to both the children and herself to shield them from adversity after her death. She was sentenced to four years of imprisonment. The rationality behind the judgment was that a mother who gives birth is constantly concerned about the well-being of her children and would never intend to kill her child. Also, a mother will face the pain of her son’s death as a result of her actions for the rest of her life. When a woman takes her own life as well as the lives of her children, it calls into question our concepts of victimization. Such an occurrence is frequently referred to as a tragedy rather than a murder. 

So, why parent kill their children? The reasons for parents killing their children could be altruism, acute psychosis, unwanted child, accidental, spousal revenge and also the preference for a male child may lead to sex-selective killings.

For instance, altruistic prolicide is carried out to relieve the real or imagined suffering of children and is usually followed by parental suicide. The acutely psychotic prolicide includes parents who, at the time of the commission of murder, were experiencing severe mental illness. Some parents have also been found to kill their unwanted offspring, especially those that were illegitimate or of uncertain paternity. Accidental prolicide results from prolonged and severe child abuse. Prolicide as an act of spousal revenge is committed to punishing the child’s other parent, such as, in cases of adultery or when a mother kills her child specifically to emotionally harm that child’s father. 

In Nepal, anyone who takes another person’s life will be punished with 25 years imprisonment. If any newborn baby dies after being thrown, abandoned or disregarded by parents, such a parent can be charged under homicide and be punished with 25 years imprisonment.

Anyone aborting a fetus of up to 12 weeks without the consent of the pregnant woman shall be punished with imprisonment of up to one year and ten thousand rupees. If the fetus is more than 12 weeks and up to 25 weeks, three years of imprisonment and thirty thousand fine and if the fetus is above 25 weeks, five years of imprisonment and fifty thousand rupees fine shall be imposed.

Given the horrific nature of the killing, prolicide an unimaginable crime to many people have violated the children right to life. Prolicide is a regular event, but it’s not well-known and predicting it is almost impossible. The killing of a child by a parent also poses critical challenges to psychologists, governments and the legal system. It is important to realize what drives a parent to commit such terrible acts, as it might be helpful in preventing such crime in future.

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