Child cannibalism or fetal cannibalism describes the act of eating a child or fetus. Accounts can be rumours or urban legends, but some media stories proved that incidents involving the consumption of children and fetuses do take place. Controversy was sparked when images showing what appeared to be human fetuses were being published in China. Reports later explained that the images were part of an artist's exhibition (Zhu Yu) and was not a real fetus but just to be in a contemporary artwork, although Zhu claimed otherwise.  The artwork is called "Eating people" and was made to protest against cannibalism.
Ritual practice myths
In 330-340 AD Alexandrian bishop Epiphanius claimed to have defected from a sect called the Phibionites, which were claimed to worship a snake, have sexual intercourse during religious ceremonies, and eat aborted fetuses - considered to be "the perfect mass". This account was used by the Christian Church to attack its enemies.
Jonathan Swift's 1729 satiric article "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public" proposed the utilization of an economic system based on poor people selling their children to be eaten, claiming that this would benefit the economy, family values, and general happiness of Ireland. He used many instances of irony to express that his proposition was just as bad as what was really being done to help the poor.
References in popular culture
- In Fruit Chan's Dumplings, fetuses are consumed with the belief of their rejuvenating properties.
- Japanese rock band Dir en grey's song "Umbrella" is about the act of child cannibalism.
- In Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road, a father and son encounter a family that consumes a fetus.
- In the popular comedy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the character Fat Bastard is known for his obsession of eating infants.
- In an episode of South Park, Christopher Reeve is shown eating fetuses in order to regain his mobility as well as to seemingly become stronger (in satirical reference to his acting roles as Superman, his real-life paralysis, and subsequent advocacy for foetal stem cell research).
- In an episode of Robot Chicken, the resurrected Walt Disney feeds exclusively on Cuban children. After watching coverage of the Elian Gonzales deportation case on the news, Disney sets out on a quest to devour the boy.
- Albert Fish
- Blood libel
- Child sacrifice
- "A Modest Proposal", by Jonathan Swift
- Saturn Devouring His Son
- Rojas, Carlos. (2002). Cannibalism and the Chinese Body Politic: Hermeneutics and Violence in Cross-Cultural Perception. Post Modern Culture, 12 (3). Retrieved July 8, 2006. http://www3.iath.virginia.edu/pmc/text-only/issue.502/12.3rojas.txt
- Emery, D. "Do They Eat Babies in China?". About.com>. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Dixon, Miss Poppy (10.2000). "Eating Fetuses: The lurid Christian fantasy of godless Chinese eating "unborn children."". Archived from the original on Mar 13, 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- Bill Ellis. Aliens, Ghosts, and Cults: Legends We Live. University Press of Mississippi. p. 54.