Indigenous Infanticide.jpg

Photo credit: sound of

The sound of
a little voice
from beneath the earth.
Why was he there?
He’d done nothing wrong.
What was his crime?
Born undesirable.
Capital punishment
His sentence


It should not be so.

I will open my mouth for these babies
For the rights of these little unfortunate ones.
I will open my mouth and judge righteously
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy

Copyright: Staci Lys 2007

What is infanticide?

“The popular expression used to refer to the murder of unwanted children, the term infanticide takes us back to a problem as old as humanity itself, registered all over the world throughout history.

“Every year, hundreds of indigenous children are buried alive, suffocated with leaves, poisoned or left to die in the forest. Dedicated mothers are many times forced by cultural traditions to give up their children. Some prefer suicide to this.

There are many reasons that lead to the children’s deaths. Those with physical or mental deficiencies are killed, as well as twins, children born out of wedlock or considered to be bearers of bad luck for the community. In some communities, the mother may kill a newborn baby, if she is still breastfeeding another or if the sex of the baby wasn’t what was expected. For some tribes the birth of twins or children with abnormalities indicates that the mother was promiscuous during her pregnancy. She is punished and her children are buried alive.”

The following short documentary is one of the first produced by my husband, Daniel Silva. It is an interview with Marcia Suzuki, linguist that works with indigenous tribes in the Brazilian Amazon. She speaks of her experiences, and of the new and old anthropological ideas concerning infanticide and the cultural impact that it has on the indigenous cultures.

What are your thoughts about indigenous infanticide?  Do you think that these communities should be tolerated as a respect for cultural tradition and indigenous worldview? Do you think these babies and young children (even as old as 15) have the right to keep their lives?