Friday, February 02, 2007

Women's Issue - Gendercide

For years, i read about couples in China finding out the sex of unborn babies and electing to abort girl babies since the country was enforcing a one child policy. The result is captured so eloquently in the article below:

China is asking where all the girls have gone. And the sobering answer is that this vast nation, now the world's fastest-growing economy, is confronting a self-perpetuated demographic disaster that some experts describe as "gendercide" -- the phenomenom caused by millions of families resorting to abortion and infanticide to make sure their one child was a boy.
The age-old bias for boys, combined with China's draconian one-child policy imposed since 1980, has produced what Gu Baochang, a leading Chinese expert on family planning, described as "the largest, the highest, and the longest" gender imbalance in the world.


Ancient practice
For centuries, Chinese families without sons feared poverty and neglect. The male offspring represented continuity of lineage and protection in old age. The traditional thinking is best described in the ancient "Book of Songs" (1000-700 B.C.): "When a son is born, Let him sleep on the bed, Clothe him with fine clothes, And give him jade to play...When a daughter is born, Let her sleep on the ground, Wrap her in common wrappings, And give broken tiles to play..."

After the Communists took power in 1949, Mao Zedong rejected traditional Malthusian arguments that population growth would eventually outrun food supply, and firmly regarded China's huge population as an asset, then with an annual birth rate of 3.7 percent. Without a state-mandated birth control program, China's sex ratio in the 60's and 70's remained normal.
Then in the early '80s, China began enforcing an ambitious demographic engineering policy to limit families to one-child, as part of its strategy to fast-track economic modernization. The policy resulted in a slashed annual birth rate of 1.29 percent by 2002, or the prevention of some 300 million births, and the current population of close to 1.3 billion.


‘Missing girls’
From a relatively normal ratio of 108.5 boys to 100 girls in the early 80s, the male surplus progressively rose to 111 in 1990, 116 in 2000, and is now is close to 120 boys for each 100 girls at the present time, according to a Chinese think-tank report. The shortage of women is creating a "huge societal issue,” warned U.N. resident coordinator Khalid Malik earlier this year.

Along with HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation, he said it was one of the three biggest challenges facing China. "In eight to 10 years, we will have something like 40 to 60 million missing women," he said, adding that it will have "enormous implications" for China's prostitution industry and human trafficking.

China's own population experts have been warning for years about the looming gender crisis.
"The loss of female births due to illegal prenatal sex determination and sex-selective abortions and female infanticide will affect the true sex ratio at birth and at young ages, creating an unbalanced population sex structure in the future and resulting in potentially serious social problems," argued Peking University's chief demographer back in 1993.


Prenatal sex selection
The abortion of female fetuses and infanticide was aided by the spread of cheap and portable ultra-sound scanners in the 1980's. Illegal mobile scanning and backstreet hospitals can provide a sex scan for as little as $50, according to one report.

"Prenatal sex selection was probably the primary cause, if not the sole cause, for the continuous rise of the sex ratio at birth," said population expert Prof. Chu Junhong. A slew of reports have confirmed the disturbing demographic trend.In a 2002 survey conducted in a central China village, more than 300 of the 820 women had abortions and more than a third of them admitted they were trying to select their baby's sex.

According to a report by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the vast majority of aborted fetuses, more than 70 percent, were female, citing the abortion of up to 750,000 female fetuses in China in 1999. A report by Zhang Qing, population researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the gender imbalance is "statistically related to the high death rate of female babies, with female death rate at age zero in the city or rural areas consistently higher than male baby death rate." Only seven of China's 29 provinces are within the world's average sex ratio. Zhang Qing's report cited eight "disaster provinces" from North to South China, where there were 26 to 38 percent more boys than girls.

In the last census in 2000, there were nearly 19 million boys more than girls in the 0-15 age group. "We have to act now or the problem will become very serious," said Peking University sociologist Prof. Xia Xueluan. He cited the need to strengthen social welfare system in the countryside to weaken the traditional preference for boys.

Gravity of imbalance beginning to be felt
The hint of "serious" problems ahead can be seen in the increasing cases of human trafficking as bachelors try to "purchase" their wives. China's police have freed more than 42,000 kidnapped women and children from 2001 to 2003. The vast army of surplus males could pose a threat to China's stability, argued two Western scholars. Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. Den Boer, who recently wrote a book on the "Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population," cited two rebellions in disproportionately male areas in Manchu Dynasty China.

10 comments:

Vera Ezimora said...

FIRST!!!

LondonBuki said...

It's amazing what goes on in the world!

I understand that they are trying to control the population with this policy BUT this is ... I can't find a word for it!

Thanks for this post, it's a reminder that there's A LOT going on that we have no clue about!

LondonBuki said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
azuka said...

If you enjoy techno-thrillers blended with spy fiction you might want to read The Bear and The Dragon (Tom Clancy). That was the book that opened my eyes to the Chinese gendercide problem.

I still think a lot of this has to do with the perception of women in a patriarchal society. If such a law had been passed in Nigeria there'd have been no women existing by now so the problem isn't just with the Chinese.

On a lighter note, I won't be asking any Chinese girls out. The men might kung fu me into oblivion for taking one more woman from them.

And for Vera, China seems to be the place to go. She can have as many husbands as she wants and be hailed as a hero for helping out ;-).

LondonBuki said...

OMG I am so sorry about this! How'd my comments appear 6 times??? I can't delete them Uzo, cos I have the new blogger.
Sorry for clogging up ur comments section.

Shola said...

Whaoh! i just started writting something on this issue today!

i think china is facing a peculiar challenge - the consequence of extremes.

family planning analysts say it might take 15years to correct this.
and that is if all measures to encourage people to keep their female babies is largely successful.

if not well handled the consequences can be devasting on the stability that china has worked hard at maintaining.

snazzy said...

I vote for the return of the bride price as the only way to correct the situation. Only way you can incentivise parents not to abort girls. Also families that were not daft enough to abort their girls would be rewarded (free markets: yay!)

However since the men would want to make sure they were not overpaying, a system of apraisal should be done (overseen of course by impartial auditors like kpmg pwc). So you know the right prices for deuces, dimes and all others in between.
This also helps the woman, cos if you know a dime in Shanghai went for X amount of dollars worth of bride price, then a dime in Beijing or HK can also charge the same price.

So if you have to live in a patriarchic society make it work for you. However since it is a patriarchial society, virgins are more valuable in villages than in towns. There is a divorce discount and a widow premium to be adjusted for with ladies that decide to be marry.

Biodun said...

Crazy stuffs, I read about it a while back too.

Talia Carner said...

We can all do something about gendercide--singling out female infants for death.

China's 2000 census showed 41 million fewer women than men, whereas in other developing and industrial nations the male/female populations are about equal (barring unusual circumstances such as wars and emigration of males.)

Furthermore, based upon Unicef birth figures for 2005 and the Chinese government's published boy-girl ratio of 120:100, I have calculated that in China 1.7 million girls are missing each year!

This week (Maarch 5, 2007) I'll be introducing infanticide at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

But this is only the first step. With the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing, we have a chance to cry out our collective indignation and send journalists to poke in and around orphanages in China. We can ask tough questions of our own representatives and demand they seek answers about the mass missing girls from the Chinese (and Indian) authorities..

We can educate ourselves about the issues (please check for active links to articles on my website, www.TaliaCarner.com ) and ask our local and national media to place this abuse of the first of all human rights--the right to live--high on their priority list.
Talia Carner
Author, CHINA DOLL

Talia Carner said...

We can all do something about gendercide--singling out female infants for death.

China's 2000 census showed 41 million fewer women than men, whereas in other developing and industrial nations the male/female populations are about equal (barring unusual circumstances such as wars and emigration of males.)

Furthermore, based upon Unicef birth figures for 2005 and the Chinese government's published boy-girl ratio of 120:100, I have calculated that in China 1.7 million girls are missing each year!

This week (Maarch 5, 2007) I'll be introducing infanticide at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

But this is only the first step. With the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing, we have a chance to cry out our collective indignation and send journalists to poke in and around orphanages in China. We can ask tough questions of our own representatives and demand they seek answers about the mass missing girls from the Chinese (and Indian) authorities..

We can educate ourselves about the issues (please check for active links to articles on my website, www.TaliaCarner.com ) and ask our local and national media to place this abuse of the first of all human rights--the right to live--high on their priority list.
Talia Carner
Author, CHINA DOLL