; Maternal-child homicide – The Citizen

Maternal-child homicide

FILE PICTURE: Police forensic officers enter the house in New Malden, south London,  on April 23, 2014 after three children were found dead at the house on the previous day.  A South African woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after her three disabled children were found dead at their London home, British police and media said.  AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT

FILE PICTURE: Police forensic officers enter the house in New Malden, south London, on April 23, 2014 after three children were found dead at the house on the previous day. A South African woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after her three disabled children were found dead at their London home, British police and media said. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT

Reports that South African Tania Clarence had been arrested on suspicion of murder in London have apparently left neighbours shocked.

Estimates in British media put the family home’s worth between R21 and R28 million, before the upgrade to the stately double storey home – which included a lift for the children – worth about R17 million.

Husband Gary Clarence had worked for Investec for 15 years, working his way up to director of healthcare.

So what could drive a woman – with. at first appearances. every resource at her disposal – to kill her ailing children?

“Maternal filicide, the murder of a child by its mother, is a complex phenomenon with various causes and characteristics,” clinical psychologist Leisha Davies wrote in a 2008 paper on mothers who kill.

Davies said: “Murder committed by women is frequently considered to be the pinnacle of criminality and the murder of a child by its mother is perceived as almost unthinkable.”

She went on to find supporting statements that “mothers were more likely to kill their infants via passive forms such as asphyxiation or abandonment, in contrast to fathers, stepfathers, or boyfriends who would use more violent methods”.

“Existing research on maternal child homicide suggests most women who kill their children act alone,” wrote Davies, also suggesting that domestic abuse was a key factor.

No allegations have surfaced against Gary Clarence.

 

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