China has been conducting a 30-plus year experiment in population control and it’s resulting in some terrible repercussions for women — and for men. Millions of Chinese women are missing — many of them dead from abortion and infanticide, actually gendercide. Men are suffering too. Millions of them can’t find wives — and that fosters an unstable and violent culture.
The head of China’s National Population and Planning Commission recently announced that China is going to correct its gender imbalance. He says authorities are cracking down on illegal prenatal gender tests and selective abortions. Fetal ultrasound exams became common in China in the 1980’s. By 2008, the country’s birth ratio had topped 120 boys to 100 girls. The recent crackdown on testing has brought the ratio down to 118 to 100. But this huge excess of men continues to cause social problems including a rise in sex crimes and trafficking in women. To really solve this, China needs to address the primary cause: its one-child-per family policy.
I just finished a year of leading a conversation group as part of my church’s ESL program. Several young Chinese women in this group worry English will remain their distant second language because they feel they must always speak their native tongue at home so their children will learn it. Actually, not really children…..child. These women all have only one child and that’s all they plan to have since, if they return to China to live, they could be assessed a hefty fine for extra kids.
The imprisonment, brutal house arrest, and recent escape of blind Chinese attorney and dissident Chen Guangcheng has raised world consciousness regarding China’s one-child policy. Now that he’s in the U.S., we’ll likely learn more about how this policy is enforced through monitoring of women’s fertility, through intimidation, fines…and through sterilizations and abortions sometimes forced violently upon women.
I remarked to the women in my ESL class that they must have had lots of suitors vying for their hands in marriage, since there are so many extra men in China. They said in the cities, it’s actually kind of slim pickings. The extra men are mostly in the villages working as laborers. My students were all college-educated. One worked as a lawyer in China; one was a college professor; another was a model and businesswoman, and another a software engineer. All but one are only children themselves and, now that they are in the U.S., only their husbands can work. They worry about how they are going to care for their parents in retirement. They have no siblings with whom to share the burden.
The trend of choosing boys over girls through sex-selective abortion is spreading rapidly across the developing world. The U.S. does not outlaw sex-selective abortions (Congress is beginning to debate the issue.) And we’re funding sex selection internationally. Currently, our government channels millions of dollars into organizations that promote abortion in developing countries in the name of family planning. This policy comes directly from the White House and the next election could change it.