Thursday, September 01, 2011

How Is One-Child Program a "Boon" to Chinese Girls?

The title of Alexa Olesen's Associated Press story is certainly a disturbing one -- "One-Child Policy a Surprising Boon for China Girls." Surprising? I guess so, given that Communist China's barbaric one-child-only policies have led to the targeted annihilation of millions of females.

But a comparative few did survive, due particularly to the lack of ultrasound techniques in rural areas. Parents were thus unaware of the "curse" of producing a female child until she was born. Olesen's story doesn't deal with the terrible fact that infanticide remains a huge threat to girls even after birth. But for the ones that do survive, the prospects of independence, education, financial gain and so on are better than previously.

And that's the focus of Olesen's article.

Since 1979, China's family planning rules have barred nearly all urban families from having a second child in a bid to stem population growth. With no male heir competing for resources, parents have spent more on their daughters' education and well-being, a groundbreaking shift after centuries of discrimination.

"They've basically gotten everything that used to only go to the boys," said Vanessa Fong, a Harvard University professor and expert on China's family planning policy...

So is Olesen suggesting that the forced abortions, the forced sterilizations, the fines and imprisonment are all acceptable -- even good -- because they've created more opportunities for the comparatively few girls who do survive? Well, I'm afraid such an impression is strong although she finally gets around to dealing with the obvious; namely, the "boon" that she heralds in her title has been denied, as has the right to life itself, to more than 40 million girls!

The birth limits are also often criticized for encouraging sex-selective abortions in a son-favoring society. Chinese traditionally prefer boys because they carry on the family name and are considered better earners. With the arrival of sonogram technology in the 1980's, some families no longer merely hoped for a boy, they were able to engineer a male heir by terminating pregnancies when the fetus was a girl...

Still, 43 million girls have "disappeared" in China due to gender-selective abortion as well as neglect and inadequate access to health care and nutrition, the United Nations estimated in a report last year.

Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF's representative to China, puts it bluntly: The one-child policy brings many benefits for girls "but they have to be born first."

Uh, right. They have to be born first.

But even with the above passage included in her lengthy article, Olesen concludes with the positive spin she began with, highlighting the advantages single-child girls have in modern China and hoping they can make the best of their opportunities. Indeed, she quotes a female educator who offers the benefits of the one-child-only policy. You don't have to share resources with a sibling. You don't have to be bothered with obligations or distractions.  You don't have to compete for limited opportunities. So yes, the educator admits, "I do think the (one-child) policy has improved female well-being to a great extent."

Do you buy that?

I'll bet 43,000,000 Chinese girls would disagree. If they were alive to do so.