French police suspect that an 11-month-old baby who was found dead in a bucket was force-fed by his mother in what is being described as an African custom. The resident of Mantes-la-Ville, a western suburb of Paris, was charged with “excessively force feeding” her child, who was found suffocated and inside a bucket when emergency services arrived.
The newborn was originally found on Nov. 25, with emergency services noting that the mother had been feeding him inside the bathroom. Emergency services arrived and the child was found already deceased.
However, the woman was only taken into police custody on Jan. 16 after an investigation was opened into manslaughter, with the mother denying the charges. However, the autopsy results found the child had been force-fed.
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Investigators are alleging that the mother partook in a West African cultural practice of force-feeding children, and that the investigation determined the mother had a history of locking herself in the bathroom with her children and forcing food on the young infant, according to French publication Le Parisien.
The practice has been widely documented. For example, Deutsche Welle wrote, “Force-feeding infants is a deeply rooted cultural practice in many African countries, including Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria. Health experts warn that it is dangerous and can even cause a child to die.”
“In African societies, parents and caregivers will tell you that the practice of pushing too much food into the mouth of a baby or toddler is deeply rooted in their culture,” Deutsche Welle writes.
Those who practice force-feeding believe it makes their child more “robust” and healthy; however, researchers have shown that it can lead to acute malnutrition, obesity, and other health issues.
Critics of mass immigration from North Africa, Africa and the Middle East into the West have long pointed out that there are vastly different cultural norms and standards that newcomers bring with them. In most cases, issues such as honor killings, forced marriages, and genital mutilation are of top concern, but other lesser-known practices, such as force-feeding, also highlight the vast differences between Europeans and other groups.