Persisting gender discrimination in China hampers progress and Life
China’s gender discrimination problem is gargantuan, and a new Telegraph commentary by Yuan Ren suggests that the problem is only getting worse. China reportedly “loosened” the country’s notorious one-child policy, but, without addressing the unjust male bias that causes so many of the abortions that occur there, Pro-Life progress remains stagnate.
While the average ratio of males to females worldwide is roughly 105:100, China’s is a staggering 116:100. Last year, demographers estimated that there are about 34 million more men than women in China. Exacerbating the ratio and men’s ability to find wives, women have begun to pursue careers over domestic life and marriage – a phenomenon that is only troubling because of the already-massive disparity between numbers of men and women in China.
Women from other countries – as far away as the Ukraine—have been trafficked into the country en masse to serve as brides for the men who cannot find a woman to marry in China. The men’s would-have-been wives did once exist, but were aborted long before having the opportunity to marry. Women’s rights activists at All Girls Allowed reported last May that the problem is pervasive:
Trafficking constantly happens. Just last week, two Vietnamese women were arrested for trafficking girls and selling them as wives to Chinese men. Similarly, on May 5th, two Chinese men and a Cambodian woman were arrested and charged with planning to traffic seven young girls to China as brides.
The ratio is so dire that sex-determination ultrasounds and testing have been banned in the country for decades. But deeply-rooted male bias prompts parents to discover their child’s sex in utero so that, if the child is not the desired sex, they have an opportunity to end his or her life prior to birth.
In a country where forced and coerced abortions are brutal and commonplace, the country’s concern about the birth ratio is confusing. Rather than insisting that Chinese parents have only one child when the culture’s male bias will almost invariably lead them to desire a son, why not grant Chinese parents the human right to reproduce freely? And, equally troubling, why are so-called “human rights” and “gender equality” activists not more outspoken about China’s draconian policies and cultural biases?
China has attempted to place a tiny bandage on the gaping wound by giving some parents permission to have two children – and only if one of the parents was an only child. This measure is almost laughable and so are the results. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 804,000 applied (yes, they have to apply) to have a second child when the policy was announced. Apparently, in a culture where human reproduction is policed, the government’s moment of awakening to the catastrophic effect the one-child policy will have on the future of their nation came too little, too late.
Let’s talk demography for a minute. In countries with a healthy population, the population by age looks like a pyramid. The wide base of the bottom is comprised of the young. With a fertility rate of at least 2.1 children per couple, this base will always be wide enough to support the aging populations on its shoulders. The middle horizon of the pyramid is comprised of the next-oldest generation – the parents of the young. At the top – the smallest part of the pyramid—is an even smaller generation of elderly people. Economically, this system works best because each generation has on its respective shoulders the number of persons that can be cared for without excessive strain being put on any one generation across the board.
In China, the population looks more like an inverted pyramid. On the shoulders of the comparatively-tiny population of young people is a larger population of their parents and grandparents. The birth rate dropped so suddenly and so dramatically that today’s young cannot sustain the generations above them economically because they are so much larger. When a country fails to replace each person who dies with at least one new life, the results are disastrous. Conversely, in countries where the population grows at a healthy rate, economies often thrive. For some bewildering reason, China – which has produced some of the most brilliant thinkers of today – seemed to forget that crucial factor for an entire generation.
The country has realized that a one-child policy and rabid male preference are incompatible with the successful future of China. But the magnitude of the solutions does not match the magnitude of the problems. In addition to the so-called “relaxed” one-child policy, the country has also recently cracked down on gender-determination. Even though the practice has been forbidden for decades, little was done to curb the devastating effects of sex-selection abortion. Now, government officials have put a bit of effort into uncovering rings that profit off of the unethical practice. But the country’s actual view of women has not changed, and where government could have a positive impact on that dilemma, they do not.
For example, Chinese women face discrimination in the workplace, where pregnancy is grounds for termination. Job postings openly state that they prefer male candidates. Women are viewed as less-than because, when they do have children, they require some maternity leave. In urban settings, as the Telegraph noted, strong sentiments of women’s inferiority persist among wealthy families. Male children are often preferred because they are seen as more suited for taking over family businesses. The Telegraph reports:
“Many wealthy families are also anxious for a son – not for immediate financial support, but to take over the family business,” explains Professor Jiang Yong Ping, former Head of the Policy Research Centre at the Women's Studies Institution of China.
To learn more about the many issues that impede human dignity and women’s rights in China – and how you can make a difference—visit All Girls Allowed.