“Between disgrace and death”. Female imputability and infanticide honoris causa in Italy (1810-1930)
The aim of this essay is to analyse the legal debate on the crime of infanticide honoris causa focusing on doctrine and legislation in force in Italy before and after its unification. For this purpose, it will be firstly investigated the doctrinal debate on sensibility/insensibility of women that were the basis of the interrelated legal problem of women’s imputability (capacity to deliberately choose good or evil) that recall the ancient principle of infirmitas sexus borrowed from the tradition of Roman Law. Secondly, it will be analysed the changes in the definition of infanticide in different penal codes in force in Italian peninsula, from pre-unitarian codes to Zanardelli (1889) and Rocco Code (1930) in order to underline the importance of feeling of maternal honour and its relevance in the repression of infanticide. In conclusion, the essay will focused in which way infanticide as a crime was paradigmatically able to encompass many questions beyond the legal realm, including questions of gendered relationships, private and social emotions, and sexuality, all of which have obvious political and social implications; moving from private family dramas to the public stage of trial, the infanticidal mother took on the characteristics of the quintessential mater dolorosa that well had characterized the troubling shift from nineteenth and twentieth century in Italy.
“Between disgrace and death”. Female imputability and infanticide honoris causa in Italy (1810-1930) (15. Juli 2016), in forum historiae iuris, https://forhistiur.net/2016-07-musumeci/