Is China’s war on girls over?

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In the cities, such interventions were less physical but no less punitive. Those who transgressed the policy faced a ruinous fine, the loss of their job or, should they beat the odds and succeed in having a child, the prospect of not being able to obtain a Hukou for their child. This was (and still is) a vital document, given at each sanctioned birth, which allows the bearer access to vital healthcare and education. Such documents are also used to control the movement of labour within the country as they are invariably tied to a specific district or geographical area. Even in the cities, despite much progressive thinking, the cultural proclivity still leans towards a male offspring. Although there are many who are happy with a female child there are those who will seek to have a male at any cost. With access to medicine and gender screening, the killing fields are removed to the clinics….grass and mud replaced by the cold steel of an operating room or a pill purchased for a few yuan.

The Chinese government has been quick to publicise the expected economic gains of this shift in policy, citing an increased labour force, a reduction in the ratio of elderly people to young people and a predicted increase in GDP of 0.5%. It is ironic that they now look to this new policy to revive sluggish growth. Supporters of the old policy insist however that up to 400 million births were prevented by its introduction (this figure is disputed by some) and was necessary at the time. Detractors argue that the population would have flattened out without it. Whatever the view, this controversial policy has left a trail of social, emotional and economic scars across China.

Unsurprisingly, the government has not addressed the gendercide that these measures fostered. Currently there are thought to be around 40 million bachelors in China with no prospect of finding a mate and this is unlikely to change any time soon. As a general rule of thumb the male to female ratio tends to be skewed slightly in favour of the female sex (due to social and natural causes) which unfortunately means this is unlikely to be resolved in their lifetime. Indeed, in all probability it will worsen as the new two child policy is unlikely to prevent further incidences of gendercide. It simply moves the vulnerability from first born daughter to second. Any Chinese parents who are suitably motivated and unencumbered by ethical concerns could conceivably abort the second daughter until they achieve their goal.

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