His parents knew exactly what they wanted from their son: they called him Famiao, or “produce descendants”. Yet when their first grandchild arrived, they refused to step across the courtyard of the family home to see the new baby. Qiaoyue was a girl. When finally obliged to meet her, “they didn’t even wash her face or comb her hair. I was furious,” says their daughter-in-law, Chen Xingxiao.
“My father-in-law’s friends would ask him, ‘How come you haven’t brought your grandchild out for a walk?’ He would say, ‘If it was a boy I would have done. She’s a girl, so I won’t.'”
This is the kind of scenario China has always been haunted with, as told by Tania Branigan of The Guardian, through out the years. Even before the draconian one-child policy was enacted in the ’80s, Chinese families always preferred male offspring, treating daughters with indifference and even, at time, spite.
Asian Dragon’s Linda Limpe, writes, “traditional Chinese society was very hard on women. First of all, if a female child was born, her paternal grandmother could decide to have her suffocated at birth. In very poor villages, female infanticide was a big problem. Poor families did not want to be saddled with many female dependents. If she survived, she could expect to be treated like a second-class citizen all her young life since her brothers would be the family’s pride and joy. Female children had almost no rights, they would be the first to be sold off during times of famine, earlier even than the farm animals which could be butchered for eating.”
But, of course, when the one-child policy finally came to life, more extreme measures were taken against female offspring, spawning thousands and even maybe millions of abortions and infanticide.
But before 2015 ended, China has finally put an end to the nightmare that loomed over billions of Chinese daughters:
“The state advocates that one couple shall be allowed to have two children,” the newly revised Law on Population and Family Planning reads, which was passed only last December 27 at the bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Starting January 1, the one-child policy is, at last, lifted.
This, certainly, holds a glimmer of hope for China and its terrifyingly aging population. Starting January 2016, all couples are now allowed to have two children and we hope that this would start the end to countless of infanticides and female degradation. This may, finally and hopefully, signal a new beginning for China.
“China can learn from the Philippines that has many centuries of matriarchal tradition behind its development. The hand that rocks the cradle also is the hand that builds a village. It would be foolhardy to disregard the potential contributions of half a billion Chinese women. It’s about time that this unused resource be harvested.”
[Illustration: Rommel Estanislao]