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New law to aid migrant mothers

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An article by China News is reporting that expectant mothers from Kunming's 'floating population' will soon be able to register their pregnancies without returning home. The process will take less than three days and is expected to be implemented in March 2013.

The term 'floating population' refers to migrant workers and their families from the countryside who move to cities in search of work. Often these people are hired in the construction industry and are only employed until a given project is completed.

Currently, if a migrant worker in Kunming does not have a license to give birth — referred to as shengyu fuwuzheng (生育服务证) — she can be turned away by hospitals, even while in labor. The new statutes were written to alleviate these situations.

Under existing laws, expectant migrant mothers are required to obtain a birth license in their hometown in person before giving birth. They can then present the license to hospitals in other cities and gain admission.

This process can be time-consuming and is sometimes beyond the means of migrant families. Birth licenses for migrants will be issued from neighborhood management offices (社区居委会) that currently only deal with locals, usually concerning issues such as marriage and death.

Provisions in the new statutes also end the practice of fining families who give birth outside of the registration process. Women who have a baby at home will now have a three month grace period to obtain a license after their child is born, thus avoiding fines.

The rule changes do not affect the hukou (户口), or residential registration, system. As recently as 2007 that structure was scheduled to undergo a massive overhaul regarding classification of rural and non-rural residents.

Images: Council on Foreign Relations

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