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Is aborting girls really still so common?

Danmairen (510 posts) • 0

We keep hearing that by 2025 there'll be some 60-80 million more men in China because of the -still- quite frequent practice of aborting females especially in rural areas. I kinda wondered how widespread this issue still is, and I'd like to offer some observations I've done over the last couple of months at a maternity hospital my wife and I visited during that time -and where we also had our baby.

Now first of all we probably all already know it's illegal for doctors to tell prospective parents the gender of the fetus (easily seen on most ultrasounds). When we asked, and I have to mention this is one of the biggest government run maternity hospitals in Kunming, we were readily informed that it was a boy. I asked my wife how that could be, and her best guess was that since I'm a foreigner, those rules do not apply. Then she told me that frankly it wasn't a problem to figure out the gender if you wanted to opt for a girl abortion since 1. You could bribe the doctors. 2. You could bring a "friend" or someone posing as your husband with knowledge of identifying gender from the ultrasound screen into the hospital or 3. Go to a smaller clinique, pay them some money and they'll happily inform you.

If that wasn't enough there are probably plenty of other ways you can find out, not really surprising after all, but what kinda blew my mind was that many doctors while looking at the fetus will offer a subtle "Congratulations" if it's a boy but say nothing if it's a girl, as a way of disclosing the information to eager parents.

Second thing I wondered about: On the mother group my wife joined on QQ there were 19 expecting mothers. As time went by they disclosed the gender of their babies either by finding out from ultrasounds or by birth. Only 2 of 19 mothers ended up having a girl. I asked my wife is this group were for mothers with boys only but she said no. We only got confirmation from 1 of the mothers that she and her husband -a police officer who only wanted a boy- had bribed the doctors at an ultrasound test, but I'm sure many more did as well. Now, I'd like to think that this was a statistical coincidence or something but when I looked into it I honestly couldn't find a legitimate alternative reason.

Thirdly: My wife and I spent 5 days at the hospital (c-section) and while there I had plenty opportunity to walk around. On my third day there I was on my way out to get food -Chinese hospitals don't serve food to the patients -and I noticed something odd. In the lobby there'd always be some 25-30 children coming in for checkups and/or emergencies. For every girl there were 4 or 5 boys in that lobby, and it was the same no matter what time or what day I went down there. I mentioned it to my wife's sister at some points and she had to agree that it was very odd. Again I'd like to think that this was due to something with boys getting ill more frequently or something, but it just doesn't add up.

I know this was quite a long post, but I'd like to hear about your observations or thoughts on this issue.

Yuantongsi (716 posts) • 0

I have seen similar situations in my kids classes in kindi and primary, with at least 60-70% boys in the class. But to be fair it seems there are more girls in Yunnan schools as a % than in the north China city we lived previously.

I read somewhere (no idea where) that on average the first child is more likely to be a boy, this alone would help to explain the higher % of boys in China. Then with some parents wanting boys only,,

You can already read on the internet that poorer men in China are already buying relativly cheaper wifes from Laos, Vietnam etc I guess this can only continue.

Imagine Kundu in 20 years,,,

Quester (232 posts) • 0

Are people in this society really so desperate that they would kill their own offspring based on gender? Are the people we're talking about only those on the poverty line, that their financial security is in such doubt that only a son will ensure their survival?

Yuanyangren (297 posts) • 0

Why kill off females? Not only are Chinese females very beautiful, especially between the ages of about 20 and 35, but they are more studious and better behaved than their males counterparts. I can't imagine anyone in their right mind in China preferring a male when females have so many prospects these days.

EnglishTeacher (101 posts) • 0

@Yuanyangren
For the same reason Koreans & Chinnese eat dogs! I can't imagine eating my dog! It's cultural and to change a culture takes a long, long, time. It has to come to a head before the problem is taken seriously. When in 20-30 years China only has a few females, it will be like the price of gold now. By the way Danmairen, Congratulations!

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

City people can afford to select the gender of their child as @dan stated - but are somewhat limited to the single child - hence the gender selection gaming. Rural residents are not so fortunate, so they resort to multiple solutions - creating a booming black market baby market. Something is preventing normal couples from having children - I'm presuming it's related to smoking and drinking - a common past time.

When I was in the hospital last year, one of my neighbors mentioned he had 13 children - the oldest being 45-ish, the youngest still a toddler (2-4 yo) - same wife - fairly even mix of male to female. Although the 1-2 child policy is the law - it's difficult to impossible to enforce in remote rural areas. On the other hand - I have "heard" (hearsay) of couples buying babies - girls go for about ¥1 - which basically covers hospital expenses (¥5-10k) with a margin of profit - so watch your newborn as if you lived in the USA (land of pedophiles and infanticide).

@englishteacher et al
China is a huge country with a diverse variety of cultures and people - also about 5x more populous than the USA. That said - there are still people who sell their children for financial gain or because of financial distress. There are people who murder or abort their children if they're not normal or female - an abominable act - such as the family who left their newborn baby to die outside in the weather and then let wild animals partially eat the carcass. Regardless - please try to refrain from stereotyping us based on the bizarre dietary eccentricities of a few provinces.

As city dwellers are pro-actively selecting male sex offspring - this forbodes a significant increase in the new emerging market for rural female offspring of marriage or breeding quality - social graces, elegant, good for child bearing, parenting skills, etc. The rebirth of the dowery.

And contrary to stereotype - not all chinese eat dogs, cats, and other bizarre wilderbeasts (porcupine, ostrich, snake, etc) - and we definitely don't eat our own pets ... but maybe yours will do nicely if you don't clean up after it.

So @dan - yes - the further from Beijing - the more flexible the rules become. This is also Chinese culture. For me - ten fingers, ten toes, two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth - all healthy and sound - I'm happy - although I consistently prefer my children have more of my wife's refined features than my somewhat rugged Yunnan features.

EnglishTeacher (101 posts) • 0

@latou
where did I say 'all'?
"For the same reason Koreans & Chinnese eat dogs! I can't imagine eating my dog! It's cultural and to change a culture takes a long, long, time. It has to come to a head before the problem is taken seriously. When in 20-30 years China only has a few females, it will be like the price of gold now. By the way Danmairen, Congratulations!"

I was talking culturally it is acceptable here and in Korea. It's a fact not a stereotype. Anyway, you did bring out some valid points and opinions.

Quester (232 posts) • 0

@laotou
Those who commit the abominable act to abort/murder their children if they're female, do you think that is just eccentric people in the provinces in financial distress, or also prosperous citydwellers?
We have read here how people can get around the rules against gender determination, so how do these abominable acts of abortion and murder based on gender can be addressed in society?

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

@EnglishTeacher
"For the same reason Koreans & Chinnese eat dogs" is a rather general unqualified statement. Although we all know about some of the more bizarre dietary mores of our countrymen - doesn't mean we all condone or concur - we just elect to not express an opinion as it has nothing to do with us and dog is considered a kind of specialty dish. In a nation 5x more populous than the USA, in a culture where poverty and famine used to be rampant and cyclic - Chinese learned to be pragmatic and eat anything and everything to stay alive - from tree bark, to dogs and cats to the more bizarre - but definitely not on my list of experiences (although snake really does taste and have the consistency of chicken, boiled silkworms or whatever that bug was did taste like custard, and that deep fried cricket (Japanese restaurant) was so crispy - it was like eating shrimp chips - but I wouldn't choose to do any of those things again, given the opportunity - I did it to gross out my wife).

@Quester
I cannot speak to abortion although personally I disagree with it. Some women experience considerable emotional pain and guilt. The government has greater responsibilities that perhaps supercede moral responsibilities - hence the much maligned one child policy. I don't have a solution aside from sponsoring adoption agencies and supporting orphanages and places for single parents under financial duress.

I also don't want to debate the intricacies of whether a child becomes a child at conception or upon birth - a popular US topic. Chinese in general traditionally consider a child a child around conception - hence the traditional age of a child at birth being approximately 1yo.

However to murder a child that is born seems abhorrent and unconscionable - but perhaps in some cases a last resort - any TCM doctor can provide a lower cost pharmaceutical concoction akin to a morning after pill.

But to criticize - I must first be able to offer a viable alternative - I'm working on that. Education and social or peer pressure would be part of the equation. Education has the potential to raise people from an uncivilized animal subsistence level to thinking compassionate human beings - but it has to be done in a compassionate and confidential manner, so people would be willing to seek that kind of option.

I can think of potential cases where a family is so poor that to murder a newborn could be considered more compassionate than a life of pain and hopelessness - where the addition of another mouth would potentially cause starvation of the family. Community awareness and community assistance could also help stave off such behavior.

Euthanizing a delivered baby is rare in the cities although I assume it's an option for extreme cases of non-survivable birth defects - as I'm sure it's also performed surreptitiously for survivable but difficult to treat chronic birth defects. But the "urban legends" I've heard are more common in the rural areas.

The current government has been trying to address the many critical issues of the rural populations and although not perfect - I would say they've been rather spectacularly successful to date. Most rural residents have food, clothes, and shelter, water, power, telephones and the ubiquitous television. Basic education throughout China is free as are many classroom materials - books, etc, although clinical healthcare is still spotty.

The various projects I work with are dedicated to enhancing and expanding education to the next generation of rural residents and will hopefully markedly increase their quality of life and potentially earning power through technology.

The USA - with all it's technology and income taxes still cannot adequately address the economic plight of it's independent farmers - but this is one of the critical backbones of China. Welfare - in the form of "free money", grants etc is NEVER the solution. Stronger infrastructure giving the farmers more direct access to the wholesale and consumer markets along with low cost logistics, higher sustainable crop yields without destroying arable land and polluting the environment with chemical fertilizers, the list is endless.

It's easy to point the finger - but it's more beneficial and pragmatic albeit difficult to develop and implement viable solutions to historically chronic and endemic social problems or is that a potential opportunity to be simultaneously profitable and socially responsible at the same time?

Although I don't fully understand Salvador's relationship with the village they sponsor - I seriously applaud how a single restaurant can impact the lifestyle and potentially influence the culture of an entire village. I think those guys are unsung heroes.

Tonyaod (824 posts) • 0

@Quester

At the risk of being sucked into this discussion, I do find your use of "abominable", "murder" slightly inflammatory, subjective, and projecting personal moral values on to others. Should Indians then (as in people from the country of India) call the act of "murdering" a cow to be consumed by Westerners in the form of steaks and hamburgers "abominable"?

While I personally would not abort my child and in fact I actually prefer having a daughter, Chinese society is undeniably predominantly male dominated for much if not all of its 5000 year history. This would be something very difficult to overcome and which is something the government is trying to do through it's policies.

What would be the alternative to not aborting the females? Give birth and then abandon them in the streets, sell them to wealthy foreigners, or sell them to bands of con artists to be used as beggars, street performers, prostitutes, or pickpockets? What's the point of forcing parents giving birth to a child they are not interested in raising? What kind of quality of life would the said child have?

So what can Chinese society do? First, change the gender bias through education, although this would take a long and sustained effort. Second, more feasible, is to enact policies favorable to raising a daughter. For example, providing free schooling, free partial college tuition, free medical care, land grants to Rural families, etc.

Anyway, that's my two cents worth.

Cheers~

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