By Philippa Taylor
Just as the UK debates the need for a new law to prevent abortion based on gender, the Chinese Government has announced its latest population statistics.
In amongst the data is the remarkable admission by the Chinese health authorities that the gender imbalance among newborns is ‘the most serious and prolonged’ in the world.
The statistics they cite are staggering. They are so large it is difficult fully to comprehend the scale of deaths of Chinese girls and the impact this is having on Chinese society.
The Chinese National Bureau of Statistics stated that at the end of 2014 China had 701 million men and 667 million women, a shortfall of nearly 34 million women. This is equivalent to the population of Canada, Uganda, or half that of the UK.
This massive gender imbalance is a result of three decades of the one-child policy, the practice of sex-selective abortions and cultural values (in traditional Chinese culture only men can continue the family blood line and support the family).
About 13 million abortions are carried out per YEAR. (And this figure is an underestimate: a US Government report suggests at least an additional 10 million chemically induced abortions are performed in unregistered, non-government facilities).
That equates to 35,000 abortions per DAY in China.
The Chinese Communist Party boasts that it has ‘prevented’ 400 million lives (at least) through its one-child policy – more than the entire population of the US and Canada combined.
A further one million babies are abandoned every year, mostly healthy girls.
On average, 116 boys are being born for every 100 girls (the natural sex ratio is 105:100). This average figure hides the fact that six provinces have sex ratios of over 130:100 in the 1-4 age group.
In practice, therefore, 14% of men will not have a mathematical chance of ever getting married.
Sociologists predict there will be 30 million adult men by 2020 (just 5 years away) who will have no marriage prospects among Chinese women. By 2030, projections suggest that more than 25% of Chinese men in their late 30s will never have married.
What does this bachelor boom mean, in practice, for Chinese men and women?
It is hard to comprehend what it would be like living in a society where 1 in every 4 adult men you meet will have never married, and not by choice. The prospect of never finding a life partner can be one of the greatest fears in a person’s life, exacerbated by a culture (like China’s) where there is societal expectation to establish and maintain the family unit. Moreover, it is generally the poorest men (the less ‘marriage-able’) who are disproportionately affected by a marriage squeeze.
Large sex-ratio imbalances could lead to instability as more men remain unmarried, raising the risk of anti-social and violent behaviour. Historically, a surplus of young men can lead to unrest or expansionist foreign policies. Already, China’s crime rate has nearly doubled in the last 20 years.
The presence of ‘excess males’ is also one of the main driving forces behind human trafficking and sexual slavery, not only in China but in surrounding nations as well. A US Department of State trafficking report says that:
’Women and children from neighboring Asian countries… are reportedly trafficked to China for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor…Chinese women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking within China; they are often recruited from rural areas and transported to urban centers. China is also a destination for women and girls, largely from neighboring countries, who are sometimes subjected to forced marriage and forced prostitution upon arrival.’
This US Department of State report continues:
‘….a skewed sex ratio of 118 boys to 100 girls in China serves as a key source of demand for the trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution. Women from Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Mongolia are transported to China after being recruited through marriages brokers or fraudulent employment offers.’
Sadly, the problems for women do not stop there.
China is the only nation in the world where more women commit suicide than men. It has the highest female suicide rate of any country in the world. According to a US Department of State Human Rights Report, the number of female suicides in China has risen to a staggering 590 per DAY.
The cause of suicides? The same report continues:
‘Observers believed that violence against women and girls, discrimination in education and employment, the traditional preference for male children, birth-limitation policies, and other societal factors contributed to the high female suicide rate.’
It is little surprise that these sad statistics on suicide are in some ways related to pressure on women to abort or abandon their daughters, according to this research.
Also, mortality among girls is 40% greater than that of boys, when it should be instead 20% lower! This is due to discrimination against girls from an early age, ie. the ‘neglect of girls’. It is seen in lower breastfeeding rates of girls, lower attendance of girls at healthcare clinics, lower immunisation rates, poorer food allocation and the high infanticide rates of baby girls.
And now it is coming to light that the incidence of breast cancer in China has increased at an alarming rate over the past two decades, from a historical base that was low compared with Western nations.
Research in 2014 revealed that abortion is significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among Chinese females. One induced abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 44%, two by 76%, and three by 89%. When extrapolating these percentages to the millions of abortions that have taken place, these are incredibly sobering statistics.
The problem with statistics is they can hide the fact that this is about millions of individual women, and about millions of personal stories behind each number. We only hear a few of those stories because they are hidden and suppressed by China’s regime, but they are harrowing.
We should not forget the role of our own country though. Western governments fund (through our taxes) the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Both have worked hand in hand with the coercive Chinese population control machine for decades and continue to do so. There is little accountability or apparent will from our Government to close down such funding, let alone pressure the Chinese Government to stop gender abortions.
China leads, and India follows with a similar gender gap. However gendercide is not confined to just China and India. Statistics and anecdotal testimonies from UK resident women reflect its incidence here.
If we do not clarify that it is illegal here, through the proposed Bruce amendment, on what moral grounds can we insist it is wrong in China?
The Weather Girls sang their famous song ‘Its Raining Men’ in 1982: ‘For the first time in history, it’s gonna start rainin’ men. It’s rainin’ men, Hallelujah, it’s rainin’ men – amen.!’
They certainly got the history right, but sadly, gendercide is a brutality and a war on women that is nothing to be celebrated, only condemned.
Philippa Taylor is Head of Public Policy at Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF). She has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s University College and a background in policy work on bioethics and family issues.
This appeared at cmfblog.org.uk.