The One-Child policy in China has become quite controversial since its beginnings over 30 years ago. Chinese officials say that the one-child policy has controlled China’s increasing population, preventing between 250-300 million births between 1979 and 2000. Others, particularly outside of China, claim that this policy has led to violations of human rights, particularly when couples have been forced to use birth control or coerced into having abortions.
Overpopulation, at one time, appeared to be one of the main problems causing the one-child policy to arise inChina. The details of the one-child policy have varied over time. Although the one-child policy has instituted a decrease in the overall population, many lives of innocent children have been forcefully taken. By the government enforcing this policy, it is an increased abuse against humankind.
Deng Xiaoping introduced this policy in 1978 and it was to be implemented in every town by the birth planning committee. The policy attempted to limit every family to having only one child due to rising numbers within China’s overall population. If families did not adhere to the policy and tried to have more than one child, then forced abortion was sometimes imposed. China has about 13 million abortions annually, with an average of 35,000 abortions a day. This high rate of abortions was regarded very negatively in the United States. One newspaper article contained the following story from a Chinese mother who said that she had been forced to abort her second child when she became pregnant again. She claimed to have been drug from her home and taken to a nearby clinic to have an abortion. While the abortion took place, she also said that officials inserted an IUD to keep her from having more children. Years later, she moved to the U.S. hoping for better opportunities and found out she was suffering from complications from the IUD that has caused her to be infertile.
Another severe problem that was an unintended consequence of the One Child policy was a dramatic increase in rates of female infanticide in China. Traditionally, Chinese families wanted sons to carry on the family name. Because daughters at marriage would leave home to join the husband’s household, they were known as a “small happiness.” When the One-Child policy was enacted, people wanted their one child to be male. If a daughter was born, families sometimes abandoned the babies or deliberately killed them. At one time, it was estimated that as many as one million female babies were being killed each year. More recently, urban parents with access to ultrasound exams in clinics practice sex selective abortions to ensure the birth of a male child. While the government has worked to promote the importance of daughters, the policy has led to an extremely imbalanced sex ratio in the young adult group with recent estimates suggesting that China may have as many as 40 million single men unable to find marriage partners by the year 2020. This imbalance has already led to a dramatic rise in the trafficking of rural Chinese women who are kidnapped and sold into marriages in distant provinces.
While China did have a major population problem, the abuses and unintended consequences of the One-Child policy demonstrate the need to find a better way to control reproduction. Rather than force such a drastic policy on all its citizens, the Chinese government should consider another way to establish control of the increasing population. To completely and sufficiently solve the population issue, the government should focus on other factors such as the economy, rates of poverty, environmental protection, developing sufficient resources, and increasing education. If these issues are not solved, China can still expect to have a population problem.
The key to handling this reproductive choice is education. Education, education, and more education! Although we should educate everyone on this topic, I feel that men should be the key targets. Traditionally, China was a male-dominated society and men still have significant power and influence. If we get more men to sympathize and understand the detrimental effects of the one-child policy, I feel like a lot could change.