Why Women Commit Filicide: Opinions of Health, Social Work, Education and Policy Professionals in Malaysia

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Abstract

Although filicide is discussed with concern in the print media and online in Malaysia, there is little empirical evidence about its aetiology or appropriate responses. We sought to elucidate the opinions of health, social work, education and policy professionals in Malaysia on the causes of, and solutions to, filicide. Fifteen informants participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Informants attributed responsibility for filicide to girls and women as a consequence of their failure to comply with social norms and religious teachings; the stigmatised social position of women who are pregnant and unmarried was identified as a contributing factor. No informant mentioned the impact of gender-based violence, including sexual violence against girls and women. Informants' views reflect the dominant discourse of filicide in Malaysia, which is that it results from women's failure to adhere to Malaysian norms of morality, religion, customs and traditions. Solutions were largely directed at changing the behaviour of girls and women. Given the disparities between the public discourse and evidence of the experiences of women convicted of filicide, interventions that promote social change might be more effective than strategies targeting women. ‘We sought to elucidate the opinions of health, social work, education and policy professionals in Malaysia on the causes of, and solutions to, filicide’. ‘Filicide is generally agreed to denote the crime of a parent killing her or his child aged up to 18 years’. Key Practitioner Messages: There are adverse consequences for children and women in Malaysia when responsibility for child safety is placed on individual women and not referred to a society structured on strict gender roles and masculine power. Practitioners in Malaysia would benefit from international support to understand the effects of marginalised women's experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse Review
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • filicide
  • gender perspectives
  • Malaysia
  • women in society

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