Female Infanticide

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Imagine a world with no women. There as no wives, no sisters, no daughters, and no mothers. Unfortunately this world is on the brink of becoming a scary reality for Asian countries such as China and India. Due to attempts to control population and the low value associated with females in these societies historically and culturally, both China and India are now facing a serious gender imbalance. Female infanticide and sex-selective abortion are responsible for this gender imbalance. The two atrocious practices have led to problems such as elevated rates in female kidnapping and slave trade, as well as forced marriages. This paper will focus on the roots of female infanticide and sex-selective abortions as well as the problems these practices have presented.

According to current statistics, there are approximately 1,338,299,512 people living in China (Cao et al. 2012). For every 120 males, there are only 100 females. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that China has approximately 32 million more males than females under the age of 20 (Cao et al. 2012). In a 1999 Chinese census report, the imbalance between the sexes revealed that the imbalance is now so distorted that there are 111 million males in China – more than three times the population of Canada – who will be unable to find a wife (Hvistendahl 2008). As a result of this gender imbalance, the rate of female kidnapping and slave trading has increased. There are 8,000 women on average per year who are rescued by authorities from “forced” marriages (Cao et al. 1012). A major factor responsible for the distortion of this gender imbalance in China is the one child policy.

In 1979, the Chinese Government implemented a new act under the family planning policy. This new act officially restricts married, urban couples to having only one child, while allowing exemptions for several cases such as rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without siblings (Hesketh et al. 2011). Ideally, the act was implemented to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems arising from the over-population issues in China. The one child policy offers couples that delay childbearing a longer maternity leave as well as other social benefits. Couples that have a second child without a permit are at risk of being fined thousands of dollars, and may also be penalized by suffering wage cuts and reduced access to social services (Hvistendahl 2008). Approximately 35.9% of China’s population is subject to the “one child policy.” The policy is said to have prevented some 400 million births from 1979 to 2011 (Hesketh et al. 2011). The one child policy has been the source of conflict for a variety of reasons. The main focus has been the increased rate of female infanticide. Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and is attributed to the low value associated with the birth of females (Weijing 2010). Poverty, famine, and population control are inter-related factors. Where safe and effective birth control is unavailable, infanticide is used to selectively limit the growth of a community. Infanticide allows for selection of the fittest or most desirable offspring, with sick, deformed, female, or multiple births targeted for disposal (Hvistendahl 2008).

Males are viewed as more valuable to have as children in the Chinese society because they can work for higher wages and provide for their families. Females are viewed as a burden to the family because unless they live in a major city, they are expected to stay home with the family instead of pursuing an education or working (Hesketh et al. 2011). From the moment they are born, women are considered inferior to men. Women are viewed as submissive and weak whereas males were dominant and strong. Chinese women are taught from a very young age to look after the men in their households. They continue to live the rest of their lives as subservient to males (Reed 2011)....
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