The One Child Policy Exacerbates Gender Imbalance in China

The One Child Policy Exacerbates Gender Imbalance in China
Jing Zhang
Women’s Rights in China

In “It’s A Girl,” we can see how the cultures of China and India have shared many similarities in discrimination against girls. This kind of backwardness and ignorance have threatened the lives of many baby girls. In contrast with India, it was China’ government’s One-Child Policy that exacerbates the persecution of women and offsets the already serious gender imbalance in the country. Experts estimate that the current gender ratio at birth in China is 119:100. According to investigations by Women’s Rights in China, the ratio in many rural areas was 125-135:100. In the next 20 years, more than 40 million men will not be able to marry. This problem is not just a social disaster, but is also a grave threat to world peace.

October, 2012, one girl among many boys after school in Hunan Province. (WRIC)

A woman who had been married to five men in the village in Fenhuang County, Hunan Province. (WRIC)

A common scene in Guangdong rural areas. (WRIC)

A baby girl abandoned in rural Anhui Province in June 2010. Nuns and WRIC provided her with medical care.

In September 2010, WRIC volunteers investigated the reasons behind the sharply decreasing number of girls in rural areas.

1) Common Methods to Limit Birth of Girls

Since the implementation of the One-Child Policy in the 1980′s through the 1990′s, families that wanted to have boys without going over the official quota often killed or abandoned baby girls. Villagers explained that a bucket of water would be placed next to the mother giving birth. If the baby were a girl, she would be immediately drowned in water and disposed. Other families abandoned or sold their girls. Buddhist convents in Anqing City, Anhui Province had rescued over a thousand abandoned girls.

Zongyuan at eight months old.

Zongyuan at two years.
(photos by WRIC)

In Changle City, Fujian, over thirty thousand girls had been sold in three decades to Putian, 100 kilometers away. Most of them became child brides. Babies who were killed or abandoned were almost all girls.

Two mothers looking for missing daughters (left) and two former child brides looking for their birth families. (WRIC)

These women who were sold in infancy as child brides in Putian, Fujian, 
participated in the conference organized by WRIC in search of their birth parents. 
While the 1980′s were the height of the child bride trade, the problem is still very serious. (WRIC)
The story of the “Orphans of the Shaos” was uncovered in 2011 and achieved international media attention, happened in The Shaoyang Municipal Children’s Welfare Institute (an orphanage) in HuNan providence, about illegally-born children of peasant families, because of no “fertility permit”. The local government officials sent theses illegally born children, mostly girls, to an orphanage, for secured fine, where adoptive families are to be “found” by the orphanage. However, our research has shown that some of these children have been sold to various countries, often at very high prices. We have documented evidence of at least seven biological parents who are the “Orphans of the Shaos” adopted by Americans.

Women’s Rights In China is preparing to publish the English version of this book about the “Orphans of the Shaos”. And since the Chinese Communist Party has NOinterest in the work we do, we need YOUR help to get the work funded. (PHOTO BY WRIC)

Because of the strict One Child Policy, the market for stolen or kidnapped children has grown tremendously. Human traffickers had latched on to this lucrative trade. Adoptions by western nationals usually cost between $30,000 to $50,000, further fueling demand.

WRIC volunteers and the parents of the missing children are currently workingin a number of provinces and cities and in the county where frequent trading of children to help parents find children and stop the trafficking . (PHOTOS BY WRIC)

In the last decade, especially since 2005, the abandonment of baby girls has begun to decrease, but still remains a problem. But boys still vastly outnumber girls. In two villages in Susong County, Anhui, boy accounted for about 65% of births in both 2010 and 2011. An elementary school teacher disclosed to us that there were only 16 girls among 57 students of his in total.

2) Prenatal Gender Selection by Ultrasound

Although China’s government has strictly banned gender selection through the use of ultrasound, in reality, private clinics, including mobile vans equipped with ultrasound machinery, can determine the gender of the baby in the womb for 100 to 200 yuan ($30). Government clinics often disregard the ban to help out friends and family or to earn extra income. In Susong county, one family bought their own ultrasound machine to make sure of having a boy. An ordinary couple in the city is allowed to have one child. A rural couple is allowed to have two. To stay within the quota and avoid paying the fines, families chose to abort girls immediately after ultrasound exam.

WRIC volunteer investigates illegal ultrasound clinic in Shaanxi Province, December 2012. (WRIC)

This illegal ultrasound clinic charges 200yuan if the result were a boy, 100 for a girl. (WRIC)

China’s government has realized the severity of the gender imbalance problem. In recent years it has increased propaganda efforts and implemented some incentive to encourage the birth of girls in some localities. However, these measures have had very limited effect, especially in rural areas. The main culprit is the forced Family Planning/One Child Policy, which is still held as a fundamental national objective. Coupled with easy and prevalent access to ultrasound and astronomical fines, this policy has led to disastrous gender imbalance that is still worsening.

Particularly in rural areas where the persecution of the one-child policy is most severe, female infanticide is still common. China and India are the traditional male-dominated societies. Violence and discrimination against female aspects are very similar, but China’s official one-child policy, and its 30-year history of implementing it, has deprived women of their basic rights —- their reproductive freedom.

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