Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Chinese and India governments take progressive pro-child steps

Posted by Chris on May 27, 2008

A pet topic for me on this blog is commentary on sex-selective abortion and infanticide of females in China and India (browse posts in the ‘human rights’ category). I have read quite a bit on the subject, especially in India for a research paper I had in college. I read some encouraging articles recently.

India
Al Mohler blogs about an article in the NY Times in which India’s prime minister refers to sex selection abortions as “inhuman, uncivilized and reprehensible.”

I also went ahead and read the full text of the prime minister’s speech. He discusses many problems of discrimination against the “Indian girl child” in addition to abortion. He also talks about the national government’s effort to encourage equal status for women (see this post I wrote from India about the diverse ways in which women lack equality). One strategy the prime minister mentions is giving “cash incentive to panchayats for improving the village sex ratio of Punjab.”

Panchayats are local governments, akin to a city council. I’d argue that they are more important to the quality of life of their citizens than in the US. India is so big, and lacks infrastructure- which slows down transportation and communication, as well as denying access to modern communication methods to many- that the actions of the national government are not known to the average Indian in the same way they would be to the average American. Also, they face different problems and need different actions from their leaders. In the US, you might go to a city council to get a zoning change so you can add a barbershop in your garage– in India, women band together and to put pressure on the panchayat to provide sources for clean water because they are having to walk 5km round trip to fetch water for their families.

Thus, this is a very positive and encouraging step. It should also be very straightforward to measure and practice and I would hope make corruption both difficult and unnecessary. Measuring a sex ratio is simple and without knowing the details, I assume the government would draw up benchmarks at precise levels such as 900 girls:1000 boys, 930 girls:1000 boys, etc… Globally, the ratio is usually around 106 women:100 boys.

China
The AP carried an article titled: 1-child policy has exceptions after China quake. Several exceptions are being made:

  • Families that lose a second child no longer have to pay fines for the child
  • “Illegal children” can take the place of “legal children” who died.
  • Families may adopt as many earthquake orphans as they wish without paying fines– there are 4,000 estimated orphans.
  • Adopting families may also have a natural child later.

In addition, the government will attempt to connect orphaned kids to other family.

Making exceptions is a positive step.  They don’t have to do that.  The adoption exception will hopefully encourage adoption in general within China which is certainly needed for boys born with birth defects and mental retardation and girls rejected because of their sex.  I won’t put an overall negative spin on this, however, much is left to be desired.

The language of exceptions and the nature of the exceptions commodifies children.  Children should not be thought of as illegal and legal, nor should the death of one child mean positive benefits for another child.  It should not be considered a mercy to not require fines from a parent for a dead child– not that they should pay fines in the first place.  It should also not take an earthquake for this exception, I would hope that if an “illegal child” died at age 7 that the parents would not continue to pay fines, whatever that means.

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2 Responses to “Chinese and India governments take progressive pro-child steps”

  1. […] my post on China’s earthquake exceptions to the one-child policy, Saletan offered his view which can be found […]

  2. […] more kids to “replace” children who died during the tragic Earthquake in May. They are here and […]

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