The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian state. The Communist Party is the only political entity allowed to exist within its borders. Because of this fact, much of the information on women's rights can be classified as secret. Many statistics on kidnapping and the trafficking in girls and women, induced abortions, sterilizations, infanticides and other human rights violations are unknown.
It is undeniable that, since the 1980s, the Chinese government has taken advantage of free market policies to help lift hundreds of millions of its people out of grinding poverty. It now boasts the fastest-growing economy in the world. Although some women have shared in the improved economic conditions, many have not.
Under the law, women have gained equality in education, marriage, rights and freedoms, but in many villages and rural areas, the laws are ignored. Domestic violence is still widely reported, and trafficking in women and children, especially girls, is a regular occurrence.
China is home to 1.3 billion people. It is the most populous country in the world. In an effort to curb its ballooning population, the government devised a law in the 1970s which decreed that each family could have only one child.
Because of a Confucian tradition, boys have always been valued more than girls. Boys carry on the family name, are considered better workers, receive higher wages and are viewed as the parents' insurance during old age. When parents are restricted to having only one child, they much prefer that it be a baby boy.
Female new-borns are often killed or abandoned. Abortion is encouraged. Since 1997, hundreds of "mobile abortion clinics" have roamed the countryside. Women are forced to submit to abortions or sterilization after a birth has occurred, by local authorities, anxious to adhere to the one-child family ideal.
Government officials are beginning to realize that this policy was ill-advised. In 2005 there were only 100 girls born for about 120 boys, and the disparity is expected to increase. If the present trend contiues, by 2020, there will be 30 million Chinese men unable to find wives. The possible widespread civil unrest which could result might prove troublesome indeed for the government.
In China today women workers predominate in the fields of agriculture, banking, textile work, and export manufacturing.
Many farms are worked by women. Husbands and older children have migrated to the cities because the farms no longer pay well enough to support the family. There