Infanticide and the juries in France, 1825-1913

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Abstract

Through the use of court statistics published by the Ministry of Justice and the observations of contemporaries this study examines the changing behavior of French juries toward persons accused of infanticide in the era from 1825 to 1913. From the beginning of this period the juries were lenient toward mothers accused of infanticide, most of whom were poor, unwed rural women whose seducers the jurymen often appear to have felt unjustly escaped from responsibility. Moreover, toward the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, the acquittal rate for infanticide rose sharply, despite the state's increasing determination to fight child abuse and the rise of a repopulationist movement. This trend was related to the growing leniency of the jurymen toward accused female criminals in general, and also possibly to the feminist campaign against the male sexual irresponsibility allowed by the French civil code's ban on paternity suits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Family History
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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