WASHINGTON – During the days of China’s strict one-child policy, parents in China registered some 60 million more male births than female, raising the specter of what was dubbed “gendercide” by WND as early as 1997 in one of its earliest scoops.
But, a new study suggests as many as 25 million of those “missing girls” have been found after being assumed to be victims of abortion or infanticide.
They turned up in later census studies at later stages in their lives – apparently going unregistered by rural parents at the time of birth.
“Most people are using a demographic explanation to say that abortion or infanticide are the reasons (these girls) don’t show up in the census and that they don’t exist,” said John Kennedy, study co-author and political science professor at Kansas University. “But we find there is a political explanation.”
When China implemented the one-child policy in 1979, the government expected local family-planning officials to enforce it. However, implementing the rule proved harder in villages, where officials were also members of the community.
Kennedy, who studied the situation on the ground in rural China discovered that in many cases, village officials ignored the one-child policy.
Kennedy said that by the mid-1980s, the Chinese government relaxed one-child policy rules in rural areas, allowing villagers to have a second child if the first was a girl. Yet in the 1990s, Kennedy discovered that lax policy enforcement had allowed families in rural areas to bypass the policy.
A farmer Kennedy spoke with shed light on the situation when he introduced his elder daughter and son by name, but referred to his middle daughter as the “non-existent one.”
“He told us that his first daughter was registered but that when his second child, a daughter, was born they did not register her and instead waited to have another child. The third child was a boy; they registered him as the “second” child,” said Kennedy.
To supplement the observations they’d collected from interviews with villagers in rural China, Kennedy and study co-author Shi Yaojiang, an economics professor at Shaanxi Normal University, analyzed Chinese population data that spanned a 25-year period.
They discovered that though families didn’t register girls immediately after birth or in the months following, they tended to get reported between the ages of 10 to 20.
“Between 1990 to 2000, we observed a much later registration for girls. This is as girls might tend to be registered before marriage whereas young boys will get registration earlier for education,” said Kennedy.
While it’s good news that millions of girls may have escaped death, human-rights activist Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, is not celebrating the extinction of tens of millions.
“Unplanned” is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds abortion.
“Regardless of how many girls have been hidden rather than aborted or abandoned, we know that true gendercide also exists in China,” she said in response to the study. “Women are pressured to abort or abandon their babies just because they are girls — rather than simply hiding them. Second daughters are particularly vulnerable. Women’s Rights Without Frontiers has boots on the ground in one area of rural China. Our ‘Save a Girl’ Campaign has saved hundreds of baby girls from abortion or abandonment, because they are girls.”
Littlejohn added: “The idea that Chinese families sometimes hide an ‘illegal’ child is not news. Daughters are hidden more often than sons, as son preference leads families to save their ‘hukou’ (household registration) for a boy. There is a level of uncertainty in the census numbers coming out of China, as families have an incentive to misrepresent the number of children they have, either to evade a forced abortion before the child is born, or to avoid paying crushing ‘terror fines’” which can reach 10 times a couple’s annual salary, after the child is born. All of this is well established.”
“When a child (usually a girl) is hidden, she will have no official existence — she will have no health care or access to education, for example,” she added. “No one knows how many children exist without hukou — illegal aliens in their own land. This is the reason that the man in Shaanxi quoted in the article referred to his illegal daughter as ‘the nonexistent one.’”
She also discounted that 30 million missing women have actually been found. The shortage of women in China, she said has led to the formation of “Bachelor Villages,” and a new law that Chinese women cannot marry men of a different race.