Caption: A proud grandmother shows of her grandson in Southern China
A proud grandmother shows of her grandson in Southern China 

China's One Child Policy: Couples struggle to find the loopholes

From: Jennifer Dunn
Series: China's One Child Policy: Stories of Struggles with its Unintended Consequences
Length: 05:59

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Pressed by paternal grandparents to have a boy, couples in China engage in creative ways of tricking the system and having a son without openly violating the one child policy.

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China’s one child policy puts many couples in the difficult position of balancing the consequences of violating the policy against the cultural and familial consequences of not having a son. While some couples- including rural farmers- are allowed a second child if their first child is a girl, public and government employees don’t have this option. If they have a second child, penalties for violating the one child policy can include heavy fines, loss of housing and demotion from their jobs. However, failing to have a son can put families in turmoil, due to deeply held traditional beliefs that only sons of sons can carry on family lines and properly worship ancestors. Many couples (who have a daughter first) resort to complicated ways of tricking the system, and finding a way to have a son without openly breaking the law. 

Piece Description

China’s one child policy puts many couples in the difficult position of balancing the consequences of violating the policy against the cultural and familial consequences of not having a son. While some couples- including rural farmers- are allowed a second child if their first child is a girl, public and government employees don’t have this option. If they have a second child, penalties for violating the one child policy can include heavy fines, loss of housing and demotion from their jobs. However, failing to have a son can put families in turmoil, due to deeply held traditional beliefs that only sons of sons can carry on family lines and properly worship ancestors. Many couples (who have a daughter first) resort to complicated ways of tricking the system, and finding a way to have a son without openly breaking the law. 

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

China’s one child policy puts many couples in the difficult position of balancing the consequences of violating the policy against the cultural consequences of not having a son. Penalties for violating the one child policy can include heavy fines, loss of housing and careers. However, failing to have a son can put families in turmoil, due to deeply held traditional beliefs that only sons of sons can carry on family lines and properly worship ancestors. Many couples resort to complicated ways of tricking the system and finding a way to have a son without openly breaking the law. Jennifer Dunn reports on this clash of policy and tradition from China's Hainan Province.

OUTRO:

This production is part of the Global Story Project, with support from the Open Society Foundations. Presented by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.