Current research paper focuses on the problem of burden of women in China. The background of the issue is thoroughly analyzed and discussed below. Much attention is paid to social inequality reflected in education, family life, and in the working process. Moreover,, governmental initiatives which, on the one hand, proclaim equal treatment of male and female and, on the other hand, do not prohibit violence in families directed against women will be described in current research paper. The work is grounded not only on statistical information from numerous reliable resources, but also on interview of women which became victims of domestic abuse.
Burden of womanhood in China is formed due to unequal perception of male and female values. Women are considered to be less skillful and strong, and less devoted to their work. Very often, the background of inequality is represented by making a decision whether to make an abortion or not (on the basis of child’s gender), by upbringing of male and female children and their unequal treatment by health care institutions. Nowadays discrimination of women by men is reflected in all spheres of social life: education, working process (choosing the candidate from male and female, level of wages), and family life. Notwithstanding the fact that the government adopted numerous initiatives and ratified international convention for granting and securing famine equality and elimination of discrimination, such initiatives are not fully realized and fulfilled due to prejudice that men have a privileged position over women.
The understanding of background of burden of womanhood in China will create thorough and grounded vision on the issue in a given country. In addition, it will give a possibility to prescribe further development (either improvement or worsening) of existing situation. Such prescriptions are extremely necessary for development and implementation of necessary steps for decreasing inequality in Chinese society.
It is notable that unequal treatment of male and female in China has deep social roots. Majority of Chinese families always preferred to have male children instead of female due to several reasons. Boys can perpetuate the family line. They are more likely to increase and develop family business, more successful at their working places, earn more money and bring prosperity to their families. They will be able to support their parents and their children. At the same time, the girls most probably will leave houses of their parents (as they usually live with their husbands) and they are less likely to provide considerable financial support to their parents. That is why treatment and upbringing of male children differs greatly from treatment and upbringing of female children. From the young years boys receive clear understanding of their superiority over girls, notwithstanding the fact that they do not obtain any exceeded results in their early years.
The above mentioned perceptions led to the situations when pregnant women decided to make abortions when they recognized that their child was female. Such issue became even sharper after implementation of one-child policy in China. The government intended to decrease considerable growth of population by development and implementation of strict limits on allowed amount of children in families. Such policy is implemented in eighteen of thirty one provinces of the country. According to the policy, couples which decided to have one or more children are obliged to pay high fines to the government (the fines can be higher than the average income of the couple). For example, the authorities of one of the Chinese provinces developed the following initiative: “the abortion rate must reach 100 percent; for women who have two out-of-plan children and become pregnant again, the abortion rate must exceed 90 percent; for women who have one out-of-plan child and become pregnant again, the abortion rate must exceed 85 percent”.
Moreover, Chinese government provided officials with strict directions concerning the necessity of universal and compulsory checking of women (for determination pregnancy) and sterilization quotas which should be met. If a woman does not want to set the test, she is obliged to pay a considerable fine to the government. Fines for unwillingness to correspond to the governmental policy vary from $ 60 to more than $ 9000. Moreover, the government provides additional rewards in amount of approximately $ 1000 for reporting about the case (or intends) of one-child policy violation. It is notable that such governmental initiative and punishment for its violation is applicable to representatives of all social levels. The author of the article Women's Rights in China provided an example when approximately 400 officials and more than 500 cadets were dismissed from their working positions because they had “unauthorized” children.
The above mentioned governmental procedures stipulate the enormous amount of abortions. According to the official statistics, more than 30,000 abortions are performed every day in China. Most of them are performed under order or even physical abuse. More than half of all Chinese female population made abortions.
Even when couples decide to have a child, they prefer to have a male due to the reasons described above. The next reflection of inequality is differences in treatment of male and female children. According to the information provided in the article Being a Woman in China Today: A Demography of Gender, China is characterized by the considerable difference between rates of mortality of male and female children (the mortality of girls under the age of a year is higher than a mortality of boys). The main reasons of such differences are the following: slower reaction of parents on illness of their child (as the role of girl in family is lower than the role of boy), unwillingness to bear considerable expenses on girl’s treatment, decreased rate of vaccination, and increased delay in receiving medical treatment.
The above mentioned issues lead to the situation when the amount of female in China is lower than the amount of male. Nowadays China has the second highest sex ration in the world. According to the official statistics, the amount of men is by approximately 5 per cent higher than the amount of women. Such difference tends to grow in the nearest future. It leads to the decreasing consideration of women’s value in the society.
Anyway, the issues of inequality in making decision to make abortion or not (depending on gender of a child), upbringing and medical treatment of males and females in China are not the only factors indicating inequalities in the society. Below will be presented, described and analyzed inequalities in further periods of adult life: education, work and family life.
It is notable, that in the recent years, education becomes available to Chinese women in both rural and urban areas. The percentage of women without any education decreased by 3 times for the last 20 years (from 10,9 per cent to 3,5 per cent in an urban area, and from 34,7 per cent to 6,6 per cent in rural area). In addition, the percentage of women who obtained primary level of education decreased by approximately 2 times from 19,8 per cent to 10,3 per cent in urban area, and from 36,1 per cent to 29,4 per cent in rural area. Such figures show that people’s attitude to education is different in urban and rural areas, i.e. women are less educated in the countryside. It is connected with lower value of education in such locations, because female perform working activities which do not require considerable knowledge (for example work in agricultural sector). The increasing of education level among females lead to considerable improvement of their lives reflected in obtaining better working positions, higher salaries, receiving high quality medical treatment, and acknowledgement concerning their personal rights and duties.
However, the better and higher level of education does not provide equal treatment for women compared to men at their working positions. The one can argue that the employment rate of Chinese women is among the highest employment rates in the world. Almost 75 per cent of women are working at different positions. Anyway, women face considerable issues at their working positions, including high dismissal rates due to marriage and pregnancy, unequal treatment and disdain from males, lower wages for performing the same work as the men. Such issues arise from the deep understanding that women have lower educational skills and less physical stamina. Moreover, they are considered to have low working ambitions, their devotion to working position, to their profession and the company than that of men. These are the reasons why women are more engaged at working positions which require lower level of education, knowledge and skills, like agriculture, trade, services and technical stuff. The amount of women involved in agriculture is by 10 per cent higher than the amount of men; the amount of female technical stuff is by 1,2 per cent higher than the amount of male; the amount of women who work in trade and provide different services is by 2 per cent higher than the amount of men.
The existing unequal treatment at working places is worsening by inequality of obtaining new job. As it was mentioned above, females are more likely to lose their working positions due to pregnancy, marriage and unequal treatment of their knowledge and skills. Such statements are supported by the figures from the official surveys. The amount of female victims of discrimination at working positions is twice higher than the amount of male (approximately ten per cent compared to four per cent).
Moreover, they face considerable difficulties during the hiring process on new positions, especially during crisis periods (like in 2010 after the World Economic Crisis). According to the statistics, the amount of employed women in 2010 was by approximately 15 per cent lower than the amount of employed women in 1990. As females are more likely to obtain working positions in agricultural sector, they are more likely to find work in rural areas. It is notable that the rate of female wordlessness is considerably lower in big cities than in rural areas (thirty five per cent in Heilongjiang compared to eighty two per cent in some Chinese rural locations).
However, the existing issues concerning unequal treatment of women and men in China are not limit by the abovementioned ones. Maybe, one of the sharpest questions concerns family relations. Chinese women and men have different understandings of family order, duties, and rules. It is notable that majority of prominent decisions are taken by men. Men tend to earn money, to decide to purchase house or not, to choose the place of living, etc., while women have only domestic responsibilities. The time spent on domestic work by females is much higher than the time spent by males. According to official statistics, working men spend by 2,5-3 times less time on performing domestic work compared to women. Such inequality can be explained by different social roles and recognition and unequal access to education and working positions (including female discrimination at working places).
The most horrible thing regarding the current issue is physical abuse directed at women. More than twenty seven per cent of Chinese women officially proclaimed themselves as victims of physical abuse of their husbands. Such cases include restriction of liberty, physical and verbal violence, control over their expenditures, and forced sexual intercourses. It should be noted that many women were frightened and felt themselves uncomfortable for such proclamations and did not reported about such events. The issues reflect the existence of “strong patriarchal traditions that invariably favoring the masculine line and continue to influence family habits, particularly as regards legacies”. Such inequality is reflected not only in family relations between a wife and a husband, but also in relations between sisters and brothers. Only 15 per cent of Chinese people support the opinion that male and female have equal rights of heritability.
Majority of Chinese women are totally satisfied with their family positions and attitudes of their husbands. According to the official statistics, more than eighty two per cent of Chinese women are satisfied with their family life. Existing upbringing, behavior and social conditions provide an assurance that inequality, violence and physical abuse are normal events in Chinese society. As a result, they should be totally accepted by women and men.
The Chinese government could not let the existing situation develop, as well as ignore the growing inequality of the society. From the middle of the 20th century numerous initiatives were developed and implemented to grant rights to women and to protect them. The government proclaimed struggle against sexism and realized numerous initiatives for increasing the amount of educated and working females. According to the Constitution of the country, men and women have equal rights of their cultural, social, economic, and political reflection (it also concerns the family life). Moreover, this year China celebrates the thirty fifth anniversary of ratification of the CEDAW (the UN International Convention directed on decreasing and elimination of discrimination).
Regardless of the great number of proclaimed initiatives against female discrimination in Chinese society, considerable forms of inequality still exist and become sharper due to non-fulfilment of the initiatives, laws, and regulations. It is supported by numerous examples of family violence and abuses. Husbands consider that they have privileges over women and can violate their rights by physical and verbal violence. Wives consider such behavior as acceptable, because it is reflected in all forms of social life from their early childhood. The government and its representatives normally ignore such kind of violations. Even when women apply to police with their body blows made by their husbands, very often police does not detain men. Kim Lee in the article Abuse, Fear and Shame in China stated the vision of the Chinese society: “being married makes it legal to beat a woman”.
Current research paper provides background of social inequality of women and men and existing discrimination in Chinese society. Among the main reasons of unequal treatment is deep understanding that males have privileged position over females because they are more skillful and strong and can bring prosperity to their families, unlike women. Such issues have deep roots in one-child policy adopted by the government for decreasing the rate of Chinese population growth. Social inequality is also reflected in the fact that educational rates of women are lower than that of men. Females usually occupy low payable working positions which do not require sufficient skills and knowledge. However, even at such positions they suffer from discrimination and are more likely to be dismissed due to marriage and pregnancy. In addition, burden of womanhood in China is reflected in discrimination in family life expressed by physical and verbal abuse. Regardless of the fact that the government adopted numerous initiatives which are directed at proclamation women equality in economy, policy, family life, etc., the rights of women against family abuse are often not protected due to deep prejudice that they have lower position than men.