Re: Gender differences

Bryant (
24 May 1995 15:56:08 -0600

In article <>,
Gerold Firl <> wrote:
>In article <3pl5p7$> (Bryant) writes:
>>See Daly and Wilson's 1988 book _Homicide_, published by De Gruter. They
>>have several chapters devoted to the demographics and ethnographic
>>literature of infanticide.
>Makes sense. Was there a cross-cultural comparison?

Yes, one chapter is a comparison of the ethnographic literature, but the
bulk of the text is their own study of patterns in Canada.

[relevant stuff deleted for brevity]

>many such deaths are reported as accidental. Isn't a common form of
>infanticide(?) a bed-death, where the infant is crushed by a parent rolling
>onto it during sleep? Such deaths are always suspect, and are often
>attributed to infanticide.

SIDS (which is not even a medical diagnosis, sensu strictu) is a
catch-all "diagnosis" created in the 1960s in Seattle for law
enforcement. Before SIDS, cops had to investigate the death of any
healthy baby as a potential infanticide, but they were unhappy with the
work load. So doctors obligued them. The only operative definition of
SIDS to this day is that a healthy baby died in its sleep. Since it's a
"diagnosis," tagging a death "SIDS" precludes the possibility of a
postmortum examination.

Estimates range up to 1 in 10 for the number of SIDS deaths which are
actually covert infanticides. (References upon request, as always.)

>Do daly and wilson distinguish between cultures where the father vs. the
>mother make the decision regarding infanticide?

I don't recall an explicit discussion, although South American polygamous
societies tend to send their women off somewhere to birth, and many
simply abandon the infant after examination. I encourage anybody
interested in child abuse or infanticide in humans to read Daly &
Wilson's book.