Reading this news, I was not surprised. Strictly speaking, this was not news but a reality of life. Every time returning back to home town, I would hear stories like this. On a street in our neighboring village, because there were so many famers buying baby girls, many female head of household carried out their babies in the street in a children beauty contest to see which family had the most beautiful baby girl.
Netizens were shocked when hearing this and asked me: Why don’t you report it? I was even more surprised when they asked, why should I report it?
Common people at the bottom (of the society) have their own ethics of life. To common people at the bottom, the meaning of new and old life is as far away as the clouds in the sky. Their first need is to be able to live. Now the market is more developed, baby girls can be sold for some money, compare to the past, they were only worth 20 sesame seed cakes and 5 liters of millet and so on. Therefore some parents just drowned the baby girl. Poverty of the material things inevitably comes with the poverty of the mind. In common people’s mind, there is only traditional ethic of life. Life, is there such distinction between new and old to them?
Over the years, the sales of children among the Chinese communities had a fixed market and corresponding market conditions. One time when I took my son to see the doctor at the hospital, I was chatting with a woman from a neighboring town. She was very envious of my hometown’s “Children’s market condition”, because she noticed the prices were cheaper than where she was.
According to the sources of children, sales of children generally can be grouped into two categories, one is children abducted by human trafficker; another category is children voluntarily put up for sale by their parents. The latter could go through human traffickers as well, and also could go through family and friends’ connections. Either way was not allowed according to the law. From this we can see the ethics of common people at the bottom is not on the same page as so-called law.
For example the grandfather who sold his granddaughter, even though he told the police that he was a person of ignorant of the law. No matter how ignorant of the law he was, he should have known China’s policy of only allowing one child per family. His daughter in-law gave birth to the second child when the first daughter was only over 1 year old. They did not take one child policy seriously, nor did they take the baby girl seriously.
The early 20th century, gender equality was introduced to China from the west. However till today, the ideology of male domination and female subordination is still the thinking of majority of the farmers in China. Boy means family labor force; boy means that parents had a sense of security; boy means holding up the family, less bullying by the neighbors; boy means continuing the family line… common people at the bottom have too many reasons to want a boy!
What should the government do? Social justice and sense of security for elders
Social justice was rather distant, sense of security for elders was also not ideal. Raising a son for the old age is the political ethic of the traditional Chinese society. To the modern government, there is no reason to continue this ethic. The problem is the Chinese government last year made clear that China will not have welfare society. This was a very clear message, citizens of the country, you will all be on your own with your “own magic power”, the best would be having good skills and a good organization to work at, fishing for a gold, silver, bronze and “iron rice bowl”. What about famers at the bottom? Holding a “soil rice bowl” for all their lives, with only self-reliance and hard work, they rely on gambling on their child. when they lose the first gamble, then gamble for the second time, lose the second gamble, then 3rd time!
The government declared war on child abduction and human traffickers, which of course was legitimate. However, the situation of parents voluntarily put up their child for sale is very complicated. The grandfather in the above news did not want his granddaughter anymore, but government did not provide him a suitable channel for him to find a trusted child adaptor. Maybe you will say why not send her to bureau of civil affairs? But will the bureau of civil affairs give him 10,000 yuan? Now, the government sent the baby girl back to her home, but do you think this “extra” child in her family’s eyes will ever be happy? Will her parents have a 3rd child?
The police maintained the rigidity of the law, but who supports the soft underbelly of the people at the bottom? (Original title: “who supports the soft underbelly of the people at the bottom”)