also from AlJazeerah:
Thousands of children have been killed in Ghana because the communities they are born into believe they are evil spirits. When I first heard about this I could not believe it was happening in my country in the 21st century. The practice originally emerged as a way for poor families to deal with deformed or disabled children that they cannot look after. These families approach village elders known as concoction men and inform them that they suspect their child to be a so-called spirit child. The concoction man then takes the father of the child to visit a soothsayer who confirms whether or not the child is truly evil, without ever actually laying eyes on them.
Once this confirmation has been received, the concoction man brews a poisonous liquid from local roots and herbs and force-feeds it to the child, almost always resulting in death.
Over time, this practice has become a perceived solution to any problems a family might be having at the time of a child's birth. By blaming the child for sickness in the family, or the father's inability to find work or provide money to support his dependents, these communities have found an otherworldly explanation for their problems.
In this highly patriarchal society it enables heads of family to pass the blame for their struggles onto someone else. And by branding the child a spirit from outside the family, they can disassociate themselves and feel justified in murdering their own offspring, while telling those around them that now all will be well - the evil presence is gone.
But infanticide has always been a crime against humanity. I believe there is plenty of evidence of infanticide in the history of all human societies and its continued and widespread practice makes a mockery of the democratic credentials of the countries, including mine, where this crime still takes place.
In Zimbabwe, in years long past, often both twins were killed by the grandmother because twins were seen as diabolic or demon possessed. There was a cultural reason for this: An illness where someone got thinner and thinner and died was believed to be demon inspired, and even when we ran the hospital, our nutrition village (to feed up malnourished kids) was full of twins that couldn't get enough nutrition from mother's milk.
However, before you point fingers at primitive Africans, remember that children with Down's sydrome are often killed as late term abortions (when they are already viable) in the USA...the ever so humane Dutch kill kids with meningomyelocoel that could live with surgery, and of course the prominent Bioethicist at Princeton University proposes infanticide to be legalized for any reasons.