Female infanticide, the prevalent form of sex-selective infanticide, is the systematic killing of girls at or soon after birth. It normally occurs when a society values male children to the point that producing a female is considered dishonourable, shameful, or an unacceptable investment to the individuals. Another reason is that in some cultures, for example in India, marrying a female honourably requires the supply of expensive dowry that families do not consider themselves being able to afford.
Waltner argues that female infanticide was commonly practiced in traditional (pre-20th century) China, and “anecdotal evidence abounds in both history and fiction.” Ann Waltner: Infanticide and Dowry in Ming and Early Qing China. In: Ann Behnke Kinney (1995): Chinese Views of Childhood, p.194. is also argued that James Z. Lee and Wang Feng 2001: One Quarter of Humanity: Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities. Harvard University Press, p.7.“infanticide declined spectacularly in China during the early twentieth century,” although even so, the skewing of sex ratios implies that infanticide is still a factor.
Female infanticide is still existent in developing countries, especially developing countries where males are valued over females. The counterpart with male infants is male infanticide.