Wednesday, April 6, 2011

100: The Self-Empowered Woman: Xinran

Dear Followers,

Mea Culpa for the long stretch between posts. Part of the reason had to do with the loss of my intern due to class schedule changes, and the rest was simply because life (etc.) got in the way.

At any rate, it's time to continue our look at issues of interest to women, so here we go. As I'm sure you've noticed, I enjoy learning about female-centric developments in other parts of the world. In earlier posts, we've visited Afghanistan, Kenya, Cambodia, Qatar, Zimbabwe, etc. Today's area of note is China.

Xinran is a Chinese broadcaster and writer who could be described as that country's Oprah Winfrey, even though her following came through the radio waves. Her program "Words on the Night Breeze" had millions of listeners in the 1990s, beause in those days fewer Chinese were able to read or own television sets. In 1997, Xinran moved to the U.K., but her writings have given a voice to China's "unheard" women, most of whom were poor.

Her latest book (Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother) deals with the ramifications of the Communist government's one-child policy. Started in 1979, it was an effort to control China's population growth. Xinran tells us, however, that since families could only have one child many parents chose to "get rid of" girl after girl after girl until a boy child arrived.

According to the book, when a child is born the midwife prepares a bowl of warm water. If the baby is a girl it will be called "Killing Trouble Water" and used for drowning, but if it's a boy it's called "Watering The Roots Bath" and will be used to wash the baby.

The baby girls who survive, but are abandoned by their families, are often adopted by childless couples in the West. Xinran has established a charity called Mothers' Bridge of Love to help these unwanted girls.

China is just now discovering the economic ramifications of the accepted belief that "you do not count as a human being unless you have a son." The one-child family rule will result in a Chinese population that - by 2040 - will be older than that of America. And by 2050 nearly one out of every four Chinese will be elderly.

In some areas of China, couples are allowed to have two children only if they married three years later than the average age of the rest of the country or if they waited six years between the first and second births. But because the Chinese work force is shrinking to dangerous levels, the government has decided to employ a number of exemptions. For example, if either the husband or wife is an only child the couple may then have two children. In China, parents who don't qualify and give up their daughters in the hopes that their next baby will be a boy are called "Extra Birth Guerrillas."

Looking forward to your comments...

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back! I missed your posts- they are always so informative and enlightening.

    The one child only situation in China and the killing of baby girls is heartbreaking. I know it must have been difficult to write about but in your even handed and most courageous fashion you are bringing light to a very dark subject and once again I must thank you for your dedication to women all over the world.