Friday, October 30, 2015

Is China’s abolishment of their One Child Policy going to make a big difference to the lives of women?

Yesterday saw the huge news that China has decided to abandon its infamous One Child Policy that has been in effect for 35 years! Couples will now be allowed to have 2 children, as due to China’s rapidly aging population there needs to be a way of increasing the younger population to deal with the workload as the economy grows. The One Child Policy was introduced in 1979 when the government saw that China’s population was approaching 1 billion, and they wanted to find a way of reducing the growth. Although on paper this seems like a logical solution, if you then add human rights into the mix it becomes a very controversial approach. So how has this policy impacted on the lives of women and girls over the decades?

For a start, taking away control of their own fertility from women is a violation of a basic human right and one we take for granted in nearly every other country in the world. Whilst looking into the policy, I found real life stories from women talking about the impact it has had on their lives. One women said that her workplace had a ‘quota’ for babies, and when she got pregnant the quota for the year had already been used up so she was forced to have an abortion. It is the highest form of social engineering.

The female population of China has suffered greatly over the years due to the policy, as male children are preferred over females because boys can carry on the family name and provide for the parents as they get older. This has lead to huge number of baby girls being aborted, abandoned and left in orphanages, and in the worst cases parents have actually killed their own baby daughters so that they can try again for a son. Due to this, there are now 30 million more men than women in the country which will inevitably throw up more problems for population growth in the future.

If a couple had a second child they could have been fined at least 159,000 yuan (around £16,000) and that second child would often be denied a ‘hukou’, the China’s identity registration system, making it almost impossible for them to travel around the country and have access to state education and healthcare. It is estimated that there are over 13 million ‘illegal children’ living in China today! Just imagine the difficulties that these people have faced, with no official national citizenship and being shunned by the state. Will the Chinese government now legally acknowledge these people once the Two Child Policy is introduced? And where does that then leave third or even fourth born children? Every child deserves equal opportunities, and China does not yet provide that for its people.

Ripples Foundation welcomes any change in law that will improve the lives of women everywhere, but for many families this new policy has come too late. Although a big step forwards, the country still has a long way to go and a lot of problems ahead to solve before it can fully recover from its past and really make change happen for its citizens. I hope in the future that we will see a new China that sees its women as equally as important as its men, and continues to make progress towards creating a society that does not impose a sense of fear for families or take away control of its women’s fertility. Women will now be able to have 2 children, will not be forced to have sterilisations after their first child and first born female children will hopefully not be viewed as a disappointment.

When the new policy comes into effect, we will just have to wait and see if it really will make a big difference for China.
Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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