Friday, July 20, 2007

Birth Control, Chinese Style

I was surprised to learn that many of the kids we met in YX are the youngest in large broods. One girl has 3 elder sisters and 1 younger brother; another has an elder brother. One boy has 4 elder sisters and one younger brother; another has 5 elder brothers and sisters. As far as I know, only one of the boys in our group is an only son. Apparently, enforcement of the one-child policy in the countryside here was looser until about 20 years ago.

By the way, did you noticed that there is no hoop on the basketball board?

One of the girls told us that her father, headmaster of a village school, was denied a promotion to a city school because he had more than one child. Later we found a notice board with detailed relevant regulations on birth control. For example, item 4 in the picture says that violators will be denied promotions and awards for 3 years. Item 2 says newlyweds must apply for a permit to have a child. Item 3 says failure to follow instructions on birth control will be penalized by 500 to 1000 dollars.

Note the report box on birth control violations at the lower left. It is serious business.

Because of the common practice of having another and yet another child until a boy is produced, a typical farmer’s family has 1 to 2 to 3 girls and then a young son. Hence there tends to be more girls than boys overall. So some people are saying that the apparent shortage of females in China is an illusion – they are just hidden in the countryside.

However, in the YX school there are many more boys than girls. That may be the result of another phenomenon: that the boys have the priority when it comes to school attendance.

Such is birth control, Chinese style. e had a

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