Unmarried mothers in Chinese city to pay hefty fee

Beijing, June 3 (IANS) Unmarried mothers would now have to pay a steep fee in a Chinese city, prompting a state-run daily to express concern as it may lead to “more cases of abortions and infant abandonment”.

A new draft regulation on population and family planning management in Wuhan said that people who satisfy one of the following conditions should be charged “social maintenance fees”: those who are unmarried but have given birth to a child and cannot provide valid identification of the child’s father, or those who have a baby with men who they know have spouses.

People’s Daily reported that under the current interpretation of the draft regulation, unmarried mothers could be charged six times the annual per capita disposable income in Wuhan, which amounts to about 162,000 yuan ($26,407).

In China, bearing a child out of wedlock is viewed as immoral, said the media report which noted that women who have children with married men can are often regarded as “home wreckers”.

“But there could be various reasons for children born out of wedlock, such as invalid marriages or people who got married under false pretenses, rape cases or surrogacy. Cases of children born out of wedlock are often complex and cannot be judged by a one-size-fits-all measure,” said the daily.

“Moreover, concerns have also been raised on the potential consequences that may be caused by the draft regulation. In places where these births are penalized, more cases of abortions and infant abandonment may occur due to these punishments and the associated stigma,” it added.

It is reported that there are as many as 13 million abortion cases in China every year, mostly involving young, single women.

“It can be predicted that once the draft regulation is implemented, the number will rise even more,” said the worried daily.

It also pointed out that there were limitations. “It only penalizes mothers while ignoring the responsibilities of the fathers. It only seriously affects the poor while having almost no impact on the rich. It undermines social fairness.”

“The responsibilities of governments lie in providing citizens better livelihoods, instead of making moral judgments. The government is expected to have more humane and holistic considerations when making new regulations,” the daily added.

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