Objective: Filicide, or parental murder of offspring, constitutes a major portion of lethal violence perpetrated against children worldwide. Despite the global nature of the phenomenon, researchers have focused their studies on the developed industrialized societies with the consequent neglect of small, developing societies. Second, there is a paucity of empirical data on child homicide committed by fathers. This study therefore explores the nature and extent of paternal filicides in Fiji, a non-Western society, and the social and cultural forces underlying them in order to enhance our knowledge of the phenomenon.
Method: Information was obtained from a number of sources, including (a) a police homicide logbook, (b) newspaper reports of homicide, and (c) detailed interviews conducted with criminal justice and medical personnel. Information from these data sources were consolidated to construct case histories of paternal filicides. These cases were then analyzed for dominant themes. Case illustrations are presented in the text.
Results: Several of the study's findings are congruent with other studies of paternal filicides: poor, working class fathers were the offenders in all cases. As a corollary, their victims were from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Regarding location, paternal filicides occurred in the home of the offender and victim. The filicides were the culmination of stresses and strains associated with marital disharmony and excessive corporal child-control strategies.
Conclusions: The general conclusion of this study is that further research in non-Western societies has the potential to increase our understanding of the social factors and processes involved in paternal child murders. We will then be better positioned to craft effective intervention strategies.