This article presents a brief cross-cultural review of maternal filicide, focusing specifically on the varying circumstances that surround the mothers who commit this crime. My goal is not to provide a comprehensive map of contemporary maternal filicide, but rather, to illustrate the manner in which a society’s structure of motherhood and women’s status contributes to maternal filicide. Special attention will be paid to the unwritten norms that govern women and motherhood, as well as to the manner in which distinct societies understand, rationalize, and punish maternal filicide. The article begins with a review of the patterned nature of maternal filicide in the United States. I will then compare and contrast these patterns with those observed in three other countries, each with distinct socio-political realities that shape the mothering experience: India, Fiji, and Hungary.
26 Int'l. J. L. and Psychriatry 493 (2003)