CHINA / Regional

Hebei worries growing gender inequality
Updated: 2006-07-13 16:45

Boys outnumbering girls could become a major obstacle for the development of North China's Hebei Province if effective measures to curb the trend are not taken soon, a senior official has said.

There are 1.4 million more boys than girls in the age group between three and 15, among which 450,000 boys were born as a result of gender selection, a practice that has been strictly banned in China, said Hebei Provincial Vice Governor Sun Shibin at a provincial conference on gender issues.

While research shows the total population of the province is over 68 million, officials there could not provide the population of the three-to-15 age group.

Although the province has reduced the ratio of boy births to girl births from 118 to 100 in 2000 to 114 to 100 in 2005, more needs to be done to achieve a better gender balance, the official said.

In some areas of Hebei, there are 134 boys for every 100 girls. The national ratio was 116.9 to 100 in 2000 and 108.5 to 100 in 1982, census statistics show.

Since 2004, Hebei has closed 201 medical clinics that were found to have been involved in gender selection.

The province has dealt with 848 gender selection cases involving 745 hospitals and clinics. While it closed hundreds of clinics, it also fined 374 others and revoked licenses of 104 medical staff and brought charges against three people.

The traditional Chinese preference for boys is widely blamed for the gender gap. As infants assume the name of their fathers, Chinese families want to have boys in order to carry on their linage. Boys are also assumed to be better care givers to aging parents.

Hebei Governor Ji Yunshi said the province is aiming to find a balance between the birth of girls and boys by 2010.

One of the measures the province is taking to adjust the imbalance is to provide everyone over the age of 60 who has daughters and no sons with a subsidy of 600 yuan (75 U.S. dollars) each year. It also has raised funds to help more than 8,200 female dropouts return to school.

Identifying the gender of fetuses and aborting girls for the purpose of gender selection is banned in China.


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