Howard French examines what it’s like to be a single mother in China. From the International Herald Tribune:
In a society where until quite recently premarital sex was often punished, the issue of single motherhood has been slow to enter the public arena. But now, a new awareness of the issue is raising questions about the status of women in China. And the debate is also stretching to other areas of citizens’ rights, including the most basic societal tenets like the hukou, or residency permit, a central tool of population control passed down from the Maoist era that restricts movement by linking people to the towns of their birth.
The Chinese government has long maintained that the Communist Party liberated women in 1949 along with the rest of the country. But in an era of rapid modernization, China has lacked anything like a broad current of thought about women’s rights.
“When we argue that a woman owns the uterus, and it’s her right to decide whether to deliver the baby or not, people won’t buy it,” said Yuan Xin, director of psychology at the Consulting Center of Nankai University. “If you are a woman, your personal choice is monitored and supervised by a lot of others, and they expect you to do what everyone else does.”
Official statistics on the number of single mothers are unavailable in China. But with premarital sex now commonplace and the earning power of women accelerating, particularly in the wealthy cities of the east, experts believe their numbers are fast rising, albeit from a small base.