Gender Gap in Asia, Part 2: China's Delusions
Last week, I wrote an article about the gender gap in Asia. This week, I wanted to focus on China in particular and their One Child Policy.
A reader left a link for me to explore for All Girls Allowed, an extremely interesting site that is chock-full of (sometimes shocking) information. As an American, it can be difficult to comprehend the way other countries and cultures function. China is no exception.
When the Communist government of China didn’t want to approach their food and labor problems with anything but the One Child Policy, former Tiananmen Square student Chai Ling decided to do something about it. She founded allgirlsallowed.org or AGA. I approached AGA for further information about their fight to help women in China, who are undervalued, have few rights and are rapidly losing footing in the population at large due to the response to the One Child Policy.
image credit: jadis1958
Brian Lee, the Executive Director of All Girls Allowed, was kind enough to converse with me via email, thoroughly answering a number of questions I had after reading up on China’s population and gender gap issues.
I found that China put a One Child Policy into effect in 1980 because the Communist Government insisted it would help with impending labor and food shortages. However, according to Brian Lee, the Chinese government is the greatest contributing factor to these problems. “[That] was one reason that the government started the policy,” Mr. Lee says, “but the main reason for the lack of employment and food was not overpopulation… The Party jumped to the conclusion that growing population was to blame, when in reality it was poor policy.”
The One Child Policy has started a ripple effect: the strict regulations coupled with strong cultural pressures to have a son have placed many Chinese women in a “rock and a hard place” scenario; suicide rates are up among women 18-35 years old; young girls are being abandoned and young sons are sometimes abducted to serve as another family’s heir. And still, the government blames overpopulation.
In order to try to coerce women into complying with the One Child Policy, Mr. Lee says, “While it’s not spelt out, it’s fairly clear that out-of-quota births should be dealt with severely…it also refers to the pressure that a mother feels by other disincentives, which in turn ‘forces’ her to abort because she has no other options. Exorbitant fines are levied, relatives are taken into custody, houses and property are confiscated—all for the crime of having an out-of-quota pregnancy.” Mr. Lee further talks about how the government (via local police) has threatened, arrested, harassed and beaten people who try to speak out about this issue, including attorneys who attempt to help those caught up in a legal tangle over the One Child Policy.Continued on the next page