Thursday, October 16, 2008
Is one enough for you?
Today in my World Regional Geography class, we watched three videos about China's One Child Policy. Then we answered questions and discussed the videos. Normally this class is pretty mild and lacking in discussion, but one girl spoke up today. She spoke up and made me angry. Almost as angry as Sarah Palin makes me. A bit of background information for you:
A brief overview of China's One Child Policy:
1. Urban dwellers may have only one child.
2. Rural dwellers may have two children if the first is a girl.
3. Ethnic minorities may have as many children as they like.
4. The Chinese government takes back the money they provided for the first child if you have an additional child.
Why was the One Child Policy enacted?
China is the world's most populous country with approximately 1.3 billion people. They were growing so rapidly the government would not be able to accommodate the entire population, so Deng Xiaoping put the policy into place in 1979. The policy worked, reducing China's population growth by 300 million in the first twenty years.
Negative effects of the One Child Policy:
Uneven ratio of males to females: For every 100 female births, there are 120 male births. Normally, there are 105 males for every 100 females. Gender selective abortion: Many parents will abort their pregnancies when they discover the sex of the child is female because so much prestige is associate with producing a male heir in China.
Abandonment and Neglect: Many newborns, often girls, are abandoned shortly after birth, and some are simply neglected. Infanticide: Some babies, again often girls, are killed at birth.
Now this girl asked, "Why do they do it? Why do they have more than one child when they know they aren't supposed to?" I thought the answer was obvious: Because they want more children. Why does anyone have more than one child? There's a void that needs to be filled. The family is not complete. The professor gave a neutral answer about having a boy and prestige, and she responded, "No, that's stupid. You had your chance. You screwed it up." At this point, I wondered how someone could be so close-minded and cold. She continued to try to prove her point, and I quit listening.
People break this law and pay the consequences because the want a family. One woman interviewed in a video had a son as her first born. She said she wanted a girl very badly, so they had another child, a girl. She then got pregnant by mistake. She tried to abort, but they wouldn't allow it. She planned to give the baby up for adoption, but she said "he was too cute." (I shuddered a bit at how easily she was willing to kill and/or abandon her child.) The point is she felt it was necessary to have those children.
I wanted to shout at this girl. I wanted to ask her if she had siblings and if she felt her life and family would've been the same without them. I wanted to ask her how she would feel if her parents had abandoned her because of her gender. I wanted to ask if she was the first born, and tell her if she wasn't she probably wouldn't have existed in China.
I could not imagine life without my siblings. I am the third child, an accident. My sister came first followed by my brother. In China, I probably would not have been born or kept.
My sister has three sons she loves very much, but she longs for a little girl so her family can feel complete. She is in the process of adopting from China.
I can understand why China needs this policy, and that doesn't bother me much. What I hate are all the negative effects, which in my opinion, almost outweigh the benefits of the policy.
What do you think?