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Panigrahi, Lalita Nath (1965) The Practice of Female Infanticide in India and Its Suppression in the North-Western Provinces. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is devoted to a study of Female Infanticide in India and its suppression in the North-Western Provinces in the nineteenth century. Unlike Sati, the practice was not sanctified by Hindu religion, yet as a social custom it prevailed among certain sections of Hindu society for centuries. Chapter I surveys in brief the origin and growth of the practice. Chapter II deals with its discovery by the British Government. Since infanticide was carried out in the privacy of the women's apartments, it was difficult to detect. It was therefore not surprising that the extent of the practice was only known by slow degrees. Chapter III traces the varying attitudes of British administrators and statesmen to the problem, and discusses the measures adopted for its eradication during the East India Company's rule in India. Roughly by 1856, it was known that the practice was extensively prevalent in the North-Western Provinces; to suppress it a special Act was enacted in 1870, after considerable discussion and deliberation. Chapter IV analyses the circumstances leading to the Act of 1870, and the last chapter examines its working and the beneficial effects that ensued from it. In their policy towards female infanticide, the British Government were guided purely by philanthropic and humanitarian aims. The roots of the evil lay deep in the institutions of caste and marriage. Although the British were not inclined to shake Hindu society to its roots, yet the measures adopted by the Government not only ensured protection to female infant life, but also indirectly helped in breaking up the caste-barriers among the clans and castes which formerly resorted to infanticide. (The practice had also given rise to social evils like kidnapping and sale of girls, prostitution and polyandry, apart from causing difficulties in the maintenance of law and order. To stamp out these evils, a century of incessant activity was necessary. In preparing this thesis, a wide range of published and unpublished material has been used. Chief reliance has been placed on the Official records of the British Government. Also some private papers of considerable importance to our study have been consulted.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:24

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