Gender, Power and Honour


Annika Larsdotter and Karin Hansdotter were two of thousands of young, unmarried Swedish women in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who were charged with child murder or abortion, and who usually were condemned to death. The general questions discussed in the article are: Why did the women murder their children? What was the role of the man, the father of the child? Ultimately, child murder is about gender, power and sexuality, and it is interpreted by the author within the framework of the gender power structures of the patriarchal society as they were represented in the institution of the household. The author is able to show that child murder was more closely associated with men’s honour than with women’s, regardless of whether the father of the child was married or unmarried. It was the man who had had illicit intercourse with the woman who drove the woman to kill the child, by threats and denials.

How to Cite

Lövkrona, I., (2002) “Gender, Power and Honour”, Ethnologia Europaea 32(1), 5-14. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Inger Lövkrona (Lund University)



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