Problems Persist for China’s Single Mothers
The Guardian’s Tania Branigan writes that although attitudes may be shifting, unmarried mothers in China continue to face social and financial burdens:
Like others who break the country’s strict family-planning laws, an unmarried mother must pay a fine, even if it is her first child. But there was widespread outrage last summer when Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, announced a massive rise in fines for births outside marriage to double the rate for married couples who breach the one-child policy. Officials appeared to water down the plans after the backlash, and a health and family-planning official said this week that she believed the increase had never been implemented.
Until 1997, sex outside marriage was illegal and classed as “hooliganism”, according to the sociologist and sexologist Li Yinhe. Having children outside wedlock “was regarded as heinous”. Even now it is stigmatised: Xiao, then living in Shenzhen, told neighbours she was married and her husband was travelling.
Meanwhile, the widespread availability of abortion allows women to end unwanted pregnancies with relative ease. In the west, women may face pressure not to have an abortion. But Zhang Wenwen, a single mother in Beijing, said everyone tried to convince her to terminate her pregnancy. Friends accused her of stubbornness when she refused. Her sister said it would be selfish to upset their parents. “I’m very proud of my son and I’m very happy to tell everyone I meet about him,” said Zhang. “But I think everyone is prejudiced, including my parents.” [Source]