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According to Kabeer (2000), China has one of the highest abandonment rates for children with disabilities and girls. Regarding history, China has undergone rapid changes for the last fifty years. Previously, China used to be a socialistic country with a limited connection to the rest of the world. The majority of its leaders abhorred the idea of capitalism. Consequently, the governments of the day did little to control the population of the vast nation. With time, the population grew leading to overpopulation and subsequent overstretching of economic resources. However, in the 1970s, china’s leadership realized that with such a vast population, the nation would find it difficult to develop economically. The government introduced one child policy with those who violated the rule liable to hefty fines. Hitherto, neglect of girls and disabled children kicked in a nation that bounded by strong social ties (Shang et al., 2011).
Negligence of girl child has been highly prolific in China. On a daily basis, law enforcement and ordinary citizens find aborted female fetuses in sewages, toilets, train stations, and others were thrown into the dustbins (Kabeer, 2006). Moreover, poor families who cannot afford ultrasonic tests to determine the sex of the unborn child kill them upon birth if the child happen to be a girl. Furthermore, most families have resulted in the illegal adoption of their girl child while mercilessly killing disabled infants (Kabeer, 2006).
Such levels of negligence may attribute to social and economic factors plaguing China as it strives to develop hence the need to control its population (Bhattacharjya et al., 2008). Accordingly, the paper evaluates social factors such as culture and economic factors such as one-child policy roles in facilitating the abandonment of disabled and female children in China.
In 1971, the Chinese government enacted the one-child draconian policy (Bhattacharjya et al., 2008). The policy followed a series of debates on how the vast Chinese population would affect the economic prosperity of China (Bhattacharjya et al., 2008). It emerged that the population was growing at a faster rate than the growth of the economy. China remained a communist country after the world war two. As such, having many children has some social prestige. However, the increased population led to the reduction of cultivation land. Resultantly, poverty became rampant in the rural areas and access to decent basic amenities such as medication and education being impossible. Consequently, the government formulated and enacted the one-child policy with an aim of keeping the population less than 1.2 billion people by 2002. Though the policy was largely successful in containing the population in China, it had adverse impacts on the welfare of the girls and the disabled children given the culture orientation of Chinese Society.
According to the policy, having more than one child attracted stiff penalties (Bhattacharjya et al., 2008). The policy was so draconian such that the society would suffer for one of its own having borne more than one child. Moreover, even the employees had the moral obligation of ensuring no of their colleagues had more than one child, or they would lose their jobs in the process. Given the strict policy and the patriarchal nature of the Chinese society, most families preferred bearing a boy more than a girl (Bhattacharjya et al., 2008). Consequently, most families gave up their daughters for adoption so they could have the chance of having a boy. Others who could not secure espousal left their disabled infants on the roadside hoping one would rescue them (Kabeer, 2006). Moreover, most families could not live with disabled children, as they did not have a secure future. Consequently, most would kill most of them at birth and try for a healthy child who could shelter their old age (Kabeer, 2006).
China is experiencing rapid growth due to globalization. Most multinational firms are setting up processing plants in the country to benefit from the low cost of labor (Kabeer, 2006). Subsequently, there has been a rise in commodity prices country due to the growing middle class. The cost of decent medication and primary education is on the rise. International students have become commonplace in the country trying to equip themselves with better skills. However, the majority of Chinese people remains relatively weak (Kabeer, 2006). The largest portion of Chinese people lives in the rural areas where incomes are relatively small. However, the rapid urbanization has not spared them as farming continues to bring little returns (Kabeer, 2006). Therefore, a majority of families are finding it hard to afford finances for education. Therefore, due to a culture, that values men more than women; girls bear the blunt end as boys always find the favor of going to school (Kabeer, 2006).
Similarly, most families view children with disability as an economic burden. Chinese people are hardworking. Therefore, the idea of taking care of someone not productive if far beyond the moral calling. Salaries in China remains relatively small despite the ever-rising cost of living. Therefore, the majority view caring for a child with a disability not worth the effort. While they grow up, they might not keep up with the stiff competition and demanding working environment. Subsequently, as China lacks welfare programs for the old and the disabled in the society, parents opt to get rid of disabled children. According to (Dowling; Brown, 2008) most parents mind about their old age largely. Traditionally, sons are more likely to take care of their aging mothers more than girls or disabled children. Therefore, with rising cost of living, families need to have priorities when it comes to financial management. Healthy and able boys always get the priority disadvantaging the girls and disabled children in the process.
China lacks a unified welfare system that would help parents with disabled children find it easy to care for them (Emmett, 2006). Despite the rapid growth of the world second largest economy, China has dedicated petite finances to cater for its children with disabilities. (Dowling; brown, 2008) notes that China has numerous charity funds and health insurance schemes paid for by the government to help people with disabilities and the terminally ill. However, the system is scattered hence not available to people of all social classes. In the rural areas, most families find it a hustle to access these funds to take care of their disabled children. As a result, rather than undergoing the hustle, most choose to abandon their sick infants in baby latches with the authorities will collect them before they die. However, the authorities are trying to emphasize in setting up baby latches with necessary conditions that would not injure the disabled children. The government official, according to Reuters, hopes that the structures would help reduce the baby injuries as current latches result to ten percent death of all abandoned children (Dowling, 2008).
Moreover, lack of unified welfare systems has deprived most care homes of the resources badly needed (Dowling, 2008). The government does not keep records of abandoned babies making it difficult to estimate the recourses to allocate. As a result, most rescue centers are turning way abandonment children, as they cannot accommodate them. Therefore, some parents continue to abandon these disadvantaged kids on oddest of all places to hide their guild.
Emmett (2005) notes that Chinese culture has been largely patriarchal. Similar to other Asian culture like of India, having a son in China is a noble cause (Kabeer, 2006). Confucius is of great importance in Chinese culture (Kabeer, 2006). The philosophy greatly esteems ancestral rites and family victuals such as filial piety. According to the philosophy, everyone should learn to play his or her roles. Women’s role remained primarily kinship (Kabeer, 2006). As such, they had to accord to what men closely related to them needed. Moreover, most Chinese families perceive men to be heirs (Kabeer, 2006). As such, giving birth to girl child only remains a social ridicule in most Chinese rural areas. Consequently, culture combined with other factors such as reduced family sizes and economic pressure have largely facilitated the abandonment of girls. Most Chinese families have an option of bearing only two children (Kabeer, 2006). However, since 1971, a family could only have one child. Therefore, a majority of families preferred to have a boy rather than a girl. Traditions in China see a man as a way of extending the family’s dynasty. However, women are set to marry. Therefore, any family without a son poised itself for extinction.
Mencius, an ardent follower of Confucius, ones pointed out the worst unfilially acts was lacking descendants. Thus, most Chinese people still hold those sentiments dear to their hearts. Therefore, a majority of Chinese couples choose to abort their girl child in an attempt to get pregnant again and try having a boy. However, most poor families in rural areas do not have the finances to pay for ultrasonic sound tests. As such, most of them gives their girl child for adoption while some even poisons them or kill them intentionally. Kabeer (2006) exemplifies the desperation of the situation. The example narrates of a woman who walks into her mud-walled house in the remote village in China. She finds our men and her mother-in-law. She just delivered a girl in a local hospital. Learning that the child is a girl, all the men walk out including the husband. In liaison with her mother-in-law, they prepare a concoction of poison that they force into the child’s throat. The woman later buries the child citing she had no guilt for their heinous act.
The Chinese population was largely uncontrolled in the 19th century. Most Chinese lived in rural areas where plenty of land was available for cultivation. At the time, war with Japan was the primary concern for China (Dowling, 2008). During the war, many Chinese died in the battlefield leading to a small population. However, after 1949, the peace experienced in the country encouraged population growth. Resultantly, people settled in the rural areas and established for cultivation. The land was ample and feeding the growing population no longer a problem. However, on the dawn of the 1960s, the population began spiraling out of control (Emmett, 2006). In 1961, China’s population was six hundred million people. Two years later, a famine that wiped out about thirty million people hit the country (Emmett, 2006). Despite the famine, by 1970s, the country’s population had risen to over one billion people.
The surge in population brought numerous factors that culminated in the abandonment of girls and the disabled children (Emmett, 2006). First, the affordability, quality, and availability of medical care became a luxury (Emmett, 2006). Therefore, a majority of the disabled children who needed specialized care could not find someone to take care of them (Emmett, 2006). The majority citizens of Chinese were peasant farmers. As such, on bearing a disabled child, families chose to abandon them in the streets where well-wishers would rescue them. Others preferred hiding them in their homes under dehumanizing conditions. Secondly, the hard economic times forced downsizing of family sizes. Most of the families could not cater for more than one child (Emmett, 2006). Conventionally, most Chinese families value boy more than they value girls. As such, the girls had to bear the blunt end of the population. Most boys would be educated as they carried a promise of extending the lineage of the family (Emmett, 2006). It was the society’s expectation that they would marry the learned young men. Largely, overpopulation overstretched resource-making access to education difficult for poor households. Consequently, the boys became the choice to go to school while the girls’ fate remained unknown (Emmett, 2006).
The Chinese society holds ancestral worship dear to their hearts. According to the rituals, women have little or no role to play in ancestral worship as the gods only communicate through men. According to the concept, the Chinese belief that the deceased members of their family continues to exist even after death (Shang et al., 2011). The primary goal of ancestral worship is to ensure the continued well-being of ancestors. Consequently, the living would cultivate an active disposition from the death thereby providing a quagmire to seek favors for their assistance during the time of need (Shang et al., 2011).
On the verge of the idea is the desire to have sons. In the ancestral worship, only sons can perpetuate the family tradition through worshiping the ancestors (Shang et al., 2011). In Chinese society, women roles follow a distinct pattern that does not allow them to preserve the family’s traditions. First, girls destine for marriage (Shang et al., 2011). As such, providing them with education is not a priority as the husbands who will marry them are going to take care of their needs (Shang et al., 2011). Therefore, due to the fanatical nature of the ancestral worship, Chinese families value their boys much while having no regard for girls (Shang et al., 2011). Boys secure the best education, as they will create a lineage of influential ancestors. Secondly, according to ancestral teachings, women’s primary role is a reproduction. Therefore, a woman’s main stake is to give birth to at least one son and take care of the household. Moreover, once the women have become old, they need a son to support them as China mostly lacks welfare programs for the elderly. Girls will eventually marry and take care of other families. As such, they do not deserve great care as they are bound to other households (Shang et al., 2011). Similarly, disabled children do not offer any form of security in the future. As such, they are a burden and a source of shame to the family. Therefore, the majority of the families decide to abandon them, as they are a curse to the lineage (Shang et al., 2011).
Abandonment of girls and children with a disability has plagued the nation since the introduction of one child policy. However, with the recent easing of the policy to accommodate the second child, neglect of girls have lessened. Nevertheless, parents of disabled children continue to abandon them due to cultural and economic factors. Cultural factors such as an inclined male culture, overpopulation, and ancestor worship have played a central role in perpetuating the problem. Additionally, economic factors such as one-child policy, hard economic times, and lack of a unified welfare system continues to spread the vice. Therefore, it is upon the government to come up with policies that protect these innocent minorities as they have the right to live and to care. Also, the government should create awareness across its populace to change their cultural bias towards the disabled and women in the society.
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