Comments on China’s “baby hatches” phenomenon

Women’s Rights in China’s founder Jing Zhang’s interview with Radio Free Asia program on the topic of women and children ” baby hatches ” phenomenon— below are some of the contents of her interview.                    02-11-2014




Guangzhou’s first baby hatch, or so-called “abandoned baby island,” has received 51 babies between its launch on January 28 and February 10, according to Southern Metropolis News. It first opened on the 7th. The youngest infant was just two days old and the oldest was 5 days old. Almost all of them had some sort of ailment. In one of  the orphanages (Children’s Welfare) of Guangzhou, there are about 1000 beds, but there are more than 2,100 infants. Although the baby hatch has a large number of homes to raise orphans and disabled children, they are under more and more pressure as the number of  abandoned children rises.


Guangzhou is not the only city that exhibits such cases. In 2013, Wenzhou orphanage received over 100 abandoned babies, almost all suffering from congenital disabilities and illnesses. Slightly older abandoned children are generally physically and intellectual disabled. Almost all newborns who suffer from congenital heart disease, hydrocephalus, cleft lip and palate and other serious illness are abandoned. “Before the parents abandon their children, most have sought medical aid first. Abandonment is a last resort.” In just 6 days, Nanjing abandoned the island three months received 159 abandoned babies.


Compare those statistics to the abandoned baby orphange in Hamburg, Germany: since its opening in 2000, only 90 babies have been abandoned there.


Furthermore, high dosages of drug contraception have led to many issues such as deformities in babies. Many women would also take fertility drugs in order to have multiple births in order to escape the fines of the one-child policy. There is also a grave issue in regards to baby food. Unhealthy baby food and formulas often contain many chemicals, which cause severe medical problems. There are a vast number of reports exposing the fact of “poisonous” baby formula that lead to infant ailments. Legal issues such as welfare and education, social discrimination and parental and ethic/moral issues are other major factors that affect the problem of child abandonment in China. This is not just an issue about ethics; it is one that concerns basic human rights.


China has signed the UN Child Welfare Act but has yet to adopt a coherent national stance in regards to child rights and welfare. The government’s policies on this issue is highly flawed. There is a lack of official and systematic regulation, integrity, and legitimacy. The Chinese Government’s execution of the inhumane family planning policy has been going on for more than 30 years. The life and death of children still in the womb are completely in the hands of government officials. Forced abortions have become routine and normalized. Children born without official permission have no ID, no right to education, and do not have access to basic social welfare.


According to a news report released by the Human Rights watch, many disabled children in China face great obstacles barring access to education. 28% of handicapped children have no access basic education and more than 40% people with disabilities are illiterate. Currently, there are at least 83 million disabled people in China. The Administration is only now in the process of developing regulatory policies for disabled children’s access to education. The Chinese Ministry of Education published a report on this subject. The conclusion? 28% of disabled children are not in school and only received nine years of compulsory education. A researcher at Human Rights Watch said: ”the [Chinese] report did not indicate that the Chinese Ministry of Education, in 2008, had signed the United Nations Convention regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, and  that Chinese policies do not meet the needs of students with disabilities in ordinary schools.”


China’s Ministry of education said that there are now 378,800 disabled students in Chinese schools, more than half of them attending ordinary schools which can provide the necessary facilities, including the family counseling. A report of the Ministry of Education also pointed out that there are at least three schools in major cities in the East that have been expressly prohibited from refusing to accept disabled students. However, according to Human Rights Watch, the reality of the situation does not match up with the claims of China’s Ministry of Education. Although the government has formulated policies to ensure disabled children’s right to education, many children have been kept from ordinary schools, or are pressured to drop out. The Human rights Organization wrote: “oftentimes, sufficient training for teachers is the main assistance that children with disabilities need.”


In 2011, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Beijing Normal University, co-authored a report on child welfare policies of China. It was estimated that about 100,000 children are abandoned each year, most of whom are girls or have disabilities. At the same time, the report also showed that since 2005, the number of orphans in China has increased to 570,000 in 2010. There is a 5-year growth rate of about 24%. Chinese Philanthropy Research Institute’s official website also released a report on Chinese children’s welfare policies in 2013. It showed that in early 2013, the number of orphans nationwide rose to 616,000. However, there are numerous “black household” orphans who are not included in the statistics.


The Chinese government should find an alternative. The government must serve the interests of its people. First, they should speed up the introduction of legislation that protects the interests of children. Secondly, they must identify the causes of disability and raise awareness about preventionary measures. Thirdly, channel all of the one-child policy’s fines and fees to invest in economic development and a sound social welfare system. There must be vigorous advocacy to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and women, instead increasing economic assistance to families with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups.


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