Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Overpopulation: China’s One-Child Policy

By Danielle Huxley
Chair of Women of Color Action Team

at the Women's Resource Center
(and soon-to-be WRC Volunteer Coordinator)

The consistent expansion of the human race is an issue that many want to discuss but few want to tackle. The top three countries with the most infringing growth are India at “17 million”, China “7 million” and the United States coming in third with “3 million” new additions each year; the concern is warranted (http://www.postcarbon.org/Reader/PCReader-Ryerson-Population.pdf).

So what ideas are in play? Because of the sensitivities surrounding the subject most experts do not offer profound futuristic endeavors. However, a few countries are doing something about it, but their methods are controversial due an undercurrent of sexism and gender bias that are deeply rooted.  For the purposes of this report I am going to keep the focus on one country, China.

Women are consistently oppressed in various aspects of life; reproductive labor is one of them. Those that reside in China are under a contemporary pressure that involves their procreative roles with an underlining of it helping the planet in some form. Every year, millions of hopeful mothers in China are forced to undergo abortions or sterilizations under the One-Child Policy.

When I examined this strategy I found a website titled, “All Girls Allowed”. The site serves as an advocate for the women in China where the focus on sustainability towards population is directly placed on the shoulders of women. The Chinese government is encroaching upon the private lives of women married and unmarried, removing unborn children and then sterilizing them afterwards. The government conducts random searches and if a woman is found pregnant with a second child and no birth permit has been issued the unborn child is considered out-of-quota.  Their pregnancies are then terminated curtly and usually against the mother’s will, full term or not. There is an underlying tension and panic within the female population of China. Understanding the issue with overpopulation and depleted resources; it is comprehensible to want to limit the amount of new individuals coming into the world. However, this methodology that China is employing is considerably invasive. The fact that the women are targeted as opposed to the men is a direct result of a population enriched with patriarchy. These women did not get pregnant by themselves yet only they are faced with this type of brutality. Rarely are the men forcibly sterilized. The burdens that these women face are causing new effects to emerge.

According to All Girls Allowed, “500 women commit suicide each day in China, making it the only country in the world where women eradicate themselves more than men”. Additionally, it is the number one cause of death in women ages “15-34 and 56% of the world’s female suicides occur in China, but only 20% of the world’s population lives in China”.
Compulsory abortion rates are exponential as well. There are 13 million each year which averages to be approximately 35,000 abortions a day. Children that are born out-of-plan are not allowed to enjoy remuneration for a period of 15 years, parents of out-of-plan children are not authorized for employment at village-run enterprises, or granted documentation.

China is doing something about future populations’ issues more so then other countries but what is the means to that end? There is an imbalance of equality and natural reproduction is rendered obsolete. What would an ethical theory of population control consist of? Can ethics play a role in overpopulation?


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