February 13, 2005


Chinese parents giving away unwanted daughters (Straits Times, 2/14/05)

TINY newborn infants bundled in layers of blankets sleep next to their mothers while fathers and grandmothers sit quietly by the bedside, but this is no ordinary maternity ward.

'Do you want to take the baby home?' one baby girl's grandma asks a visitor at Fumian Hospital, whispering so the nurses would not hear. The infant's parents do not protest and instead eagerly await a reply.

Incidents such as this in farming communities of Yulin city, in southern China's Guangxi region, underline a problem rarely discussed by the government or media - that parents are among the chief offenders for the country's widespread trade in babies.

Despite years of government efforts to end traditional preferences for boys, Chinese farmers still prefer sons to carry on the family line, do tough work and care for elderly parents.

So farmers, limited by China's one-child policy, give away their daughters so they can try again for a boy, experts say.

While Chinese media routinely report cases of trafficking in kidnapped children, a more prominent phenomenon is the giving away of babies by parents.

Parents send word out, usually through midwives, to find people willing to take their unwanted daughters.

International experts say child trafficking is getting worse despite some people's hopes that China's economic development might change the situation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2005 11:23 PM

So much for the wisdom of traditional values.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at February 14, 2005 1:00 AM

You would have to be a real contrarian and have deep pockets to boot, but if you lived in China and could raise these girls into reasonably competent young women, you would be able to make a fortune selling them to rich men desparate for wives in say 16 to 18 years. You would have to be able to do it in a rural self supporting agricultural enviroment where the kids would be a minimal burden. Home school them. Once the cash machine hit, wow.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 14, 2005 1:42 AM

Mr. Schwartz: Not just contrarian, morally repugnant. But, hey, what's a little human trafficing when there's big profits to be made.

Posted by: Buttercup at February 14, 2005 6:43 AM

This is a prescription for staggering levels of social unrest. IIRC, the natural ratio of boy to girl babies is 51/49 or 52/48. If the Chinese remove their girls either through the widespread application of female infanticide or export, that ratio will tip even further say to 56/44.

At that time, the surplus of unsatisified, unconnected young men will be a wellspring of violence. Whether it is the American urban underclass the Chinese Red Guard, Hamas, Hezbollah, the SA or the Iranian Guardians of Virtue, it is a fairly simple matter to organize young, unmarried, lower income, low education men between 18-30 into groups capable of real violence. In the PRC, that number could be in the tens of millions.

And who knows what that will lead to?

Posted by: Bart at February 14, 2005 7:15 AM

Robert D:

Traditional? What's more modern and secular than child murder and population control?

Posted by: oj at February 14, 2005 8:34 AM

Tut-tut, Buttercup. Where is the immorallity?

Certainly not in rescuing infants from a cruel fate, raising them to adulthood, educating them and finding them suitable matches. These are things that parents the world over do and have done out of duty and love since the dawn of time. There can be no immorality in them.

My guess is that you object to the receipt of the bride price by the foster parents. Although, this too is a practice of great antiquity, mentioned in Scripture and practiced across Asia and Africa.

Or is it gloating over the amounts, that upsets you? It may be premature, and like most capitalistism nervy, but it is therefor immoral.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 14, 2005 12:31 PM

Buttercup: All human knowledge allows us to view a version of reality. If we want to think about American couples going long on Chinese girls, it gives us a nice perspective on a social trend that might end up more important than we can currently concieve. Fifteen or twenty years from now, China might be run by or for the benefit of all the American raised and educated girls coming back to marry the elite.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 14, 2005 3:51 PM

It is the traditional values that causes parents to prefer boys over girls. It is the traditional values that looks at children according to their economic value to parents. The one child policy raises the stakes, but I don't think this market in unwanted girls started with it. Do you think that a family that had 4 girls before they got the son they wanted is going to waste all their money raising these 4 unwanted girls?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at February 17, 2005 3:18 AM


Every society prefers boys. Modern societies have imbalances. It'sd not the preference but the license to kill that makes the difference and it comes from secularism.

Posted by: oj at February 17, 2005 7:06 AM