Female Infanticide

Archival records on female infanticide show the different perceptions, colonisers and their 'subjects' had on the issue. Colonial officials characterised it as 'inhumane' and a 'crime'; on the other hand, castes which practised it, usually those higher in the hierarchy, justified it on the grounds that they could not afford the huge dowries or the incalculable marriage expenses having a daughter entailed. British efforts to stop female infanticide or change the social norms that contributed to the practice proved a failure. The failure of the colonial state shows the resilience of institutionalised norms to which female infanticide was related and about which little still remains known.

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