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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
China acts to protect baby girls
Boy and girl in Hainan
There are far more boys than girls in China
China says it will intensify its efforts to protect girls and address the gender imbalance of newborn babies.

A senior government official said that trafficking and abandonment of girls would be severely punished, and a ban on selective abortion reinforced.

Government figures show that 117 boys are born for every 100 girls.

The imbalance is widely believed to be a result of China's strict one-child policy. Many parents abort baby girls, hoping to try again for a boy.

"Illegal sex determination and sex-selective abortion must be strictly banned," said Zhao Baige, the deputy director of China's National Population Commission.

"China has set the goal of lowering the sex ratio to a normal level by 2010."

Zhao Baige said a project called Girl Care was being set up with the aim of protecting female children.

In this sort of village, they treasure boys and don't care about girls
Hua, Hainan Island villager

She said education campaigns would teach rural families to value daughters as much as sons.

She also promised more support for people in rural areas who traditionally depend on their sons for help in old age.

But she defended China's one child limit, and said that other Asian societies had similar imbalances.

Child trafficking

Researchers say China has far fewer girls than it should have, suggesting that many millions were aborted or killed after birth.

The imbalance has lead to warnings that millions of men will not find wives, and fuelled a black market in child trafficking.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund, about 250,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in China last year.

On Tuesday, Chinese police arrested 95 members of a baby smuggling gang in Inner Mongolia.




SEE ALSO:
China halts baby trafficking ring
13 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
China fears bachelor future
05 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
China steps up 'one child' policy
25 Sep 00  |  Asia-Pacific
China's unwanted girls
23 Aug 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Young in China: From Mao to me
07 Nov 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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