Chinese City May Fine Unmarried Mothers Because Nothing Prevents ‘Sewer Babies’ Like Big Old Fines
Last week we reported about Baby No. 59, the child who was rescued from a sewer pipe after his mom gave birth over a toilet.Â His unmarried mother conceived him during a one night stand and could not afford an abortion so she hid the pregnancy from her family.Â Baby No. 59 is lucky.Â The baby was given to his grandparents and apparently authorities believed the mom’sÂ
totally sketchy story because she was released with no charges filed. Unfortunately this type of thing happens way too often and thanks to a new policy in one Chinese city, stories like this might become even more common.
Wuhan City, located in the Hubei province, plans to fine mothers who have a baby out of wedlock. This decision has sparked outrage even in China, and many people worry that this decision will cause even more stories like Baby No. 59’s. According to Chen Yaya, a gender equality researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences:
“If the policy is approved, there could be more ‘sewer babies,’ because when mothers can’t afford the cost, they might think about throwing their babies away,”
The policy technically states that “the parties” need to pay the fee when a birth outside of marriage occurs, but it has widely been interpreted as being aimed at unwed mothers and women who have affairs with married men.Â Unmarried mothers already face serious discrimination in China. Premarital sex is traditionally discouraged and unmarried moms cannot receive maternity benefits many mothers get from the government.Â Not only is the parent punished but the resulting child cannot receive health or educational benefits.
Babies resulting from an unmarried relationship or an affair with someone who is already married will provoke a “social compensation fee,” an official at the family planning committee of Wuhan city in central Hubei province said Monday.
According to an unnamed official in Wuhan the fees are considered “social compensation” fees which are typically levied when someone breaks the one-child rule. In the Hubei province this fee is set as three times the average annual disposable income.
After reading about these discriminatory and archaic laws, it isn’t hard to understand why stories like Baby No. 59’s happen. Often the outcome of such stories aren’t as happy. Babies are left to die alone or are killed moments or hours after birth and in some areas women have even been forced to have abortions against their will.
This particular policy has yet to go into effect. The public has a week to comment on it and I’m unsure whether or not public opinion could sway the final decision. What I do know is that until these types of laws are overturned and attitudes towards women in general change in China, horror stories like the “sewer baby” will persist.