“It feels as if you’ve been turned inside out. You’ve just given birth and finally you feel emptied. You’re exhausted. Your breasts are painfully full of milk. And then you look at your baby. And you see that she’s a little girl. And you know that you have to kill her.” Vaira Mani drops her head in sadness as she recounts the death of a neighbour’s newborn baby. It is as if the child had been hers, for she speaks with a conviction that seems to come from personal experience….
Usilampatti is a place of great beauty. It is surrounded by paddy fields, dotted with tall, elegant palm trees and framed by distant blue mountains. Only the earth, rich and blood coloured, suggests the deadly annual harvest. For it is here that the children are buried….
Holding my arm tight and with tears in her eyes, Vaira told me of the different ways in which girl children are murdered in the village. Some babies are buried alive or interred in pots where it takes up to two hours for them to suffocate. Others have their mouths stuffed with wet cloths or are slammed against walls. Or an infant may be fed the poisonous sap of a local plant which destroys the internal organs, causing convulsions and internal haemorrhaging. But perhaps the most horrific method is “dry drowning”, whereby the open mouth of a baby girl, searching for her mother’s nipple, receives instead a handful of grain which chokes the child to death.”
quote from here.
Infanticide and child abandonment are not confined to India but span the length and breadth of the world. Until a hundred or so years ago (as shown below), both were common in Europe and the UK. The question I want to ask is why? Contraception and abortifacient herbs have always been available, until the complete victory of patriarchy world wide, women were expert in their use. In addition the natural contraceptive of breast feeding plus constant body contact, has been purposefully interfered with. Women have been encouraged not to breast feed and to put their children down at every opportunity, instead of picking them up. While a female is breast feeding, her body is not easily available to males for the purpose of reproduction. Deep antipathy of males toward nursing mothers and by extension the infants themselves, is not confined to our species.
Cutting, bandaging and corseting of breasts are just some of the practices used to damage the bonding mechanism between mother and child, remove the woman’s body away from the baby, and back into reproductive availability for men. Overpopulation, and conditions where babies are left to starve or killed at birth are not some tragic accident but a contrived set of circumstances. They are the result of mens attempt to take over from women and control reproductive outcomes. The silent suffering of women who must birth over and over again, only to watch their babies starve around them, and the plight of mothers who must murder their girls under male supremacist edicts, go unrecorded. There are no memorials to their deaths, everyday is anti-remembrance day, the blood of mothers and babies flows, like the mythological River Lethe, beyond memory. Women and girls are victims of an unseen but purposeful holocaust.
“Urban exposure. Urban exposure of infants was common throughout Europe until the nineteenth century. In medieval Europe, infants were left in the streets, on trash heaps, and at church steps. European urban exposure became most frequent during the eighteenth century, when numerous poor women abandoned infants in streets or foundling homes and Parisian garbage collectors picked up abandoned infants on their rounds. However, urban exposure was not confined to Europe. During the seventeenth century, Jesuit missionaries to China found that babies were thrown into the streets and collected with the trash (Boswell 1988; Langer 1974).
Foundling homes. Public outrage over urban exposure of infants led to the establishment of foundling homes in Europe. The mortality rates of infants in these homes was as high as 90 percent. Wet nurses employed in foundling homes neglected infants and sometimes killed them so frequently that they were called “killer nurses” or “angel makers.” In effect, consigning infants to these homes amounted to institutionalized urban exposure. Foundling homes allowed parents to abandon unwanted infants without fear of prosecution. As this practice became openly acceptable in the eighteenth century, attitudes toward outright infanticide became more lenient (Boswell 1988; Breiner 1990; Langer 1974). Foundling homes proved to be so ineffectual that, in the late nineteenth century, France and Britain passed laws requiring them to be licensed. Government support for unwed mothers began to replace foundling homes and orphanages in a number of countries (Langer 1974).”
One of the earliest documents explicitly referring to birth control methods is the Kuhn gynaecological papyrus from about 1850 BC. It describes various contraceptive pessaries, including acacia gum, which recent research has confirmed to have spermatocidal qualities and is still used in contraceptive jellies. Other birth control methods mentioned in the papyrus include the application of gummy substances to cover the “mouth of the womb”, a mixture of honey and sodium carbonate applied to the inside of the vagina, and a pessary made from crocodile dung. Lactation of up to three years was also used for birth control purposes in ancient Egypt.