Implications of China’s One Child Policy from Asoka Bandarage’s

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The one child policy in China was introduced in 1979. The governmentimplemented the policy based on the idea that stringent populationcontrol was crucial to the country’s economic reform. It was alsoseen as a move to improve the living standards of civilians. Thepolicy has greatly affected the lives of Chinese people. While thegovernment has been successful in reducing China’s population,there have been serious implications linked to the one child policy.In the following discussion, the essay demonstrates that the policyhas had negative implications. Using Asoka Bandarage’s perspective,the essay argues that the policy has resulted in human rightsviolations and sex trafficking.


The policy has resulted to human rights violations, especially ofwomen, through forced abortions, beatings and forced sterilization.Women that get pregnant for the second time either have the pregnancyapproved or unapproved by government. When the pregnancy isunapproved the women are compelled to abort the child. It is obviousthat such a woman does not have a right over her reproduction.Following the one child policy forced abortion became common inChina. Forcing women to abort is simply a violation of their humanrights as is explained by Bandarage. According to Bandarage (1998),it is not right to use abortion as a contraceptive technique. Hefurther argues that abortion ought to be safe and legal to only womenwho consent to terminate a pregnancy. Also, society should come upwith support structures that allow women to make their choices.Clearly, most women forced into aborting are not permitted to decidewhether they want to have the abortion or not. There are no supportstructures for these women. It is simply a matter of adhering to theone child law, which is a clear human right violation.

Women, who have reached the reproductive age in China, are subjectedto intrusive check-ups and are expected to get a birth permit priorto becoming pregnant (Ertelt 2012). Any woman that fails to adhere tothe policy may be detained and beaten. Assuming that a woman getspregnant and refuses to abort, her relatives become the victims. Theyare arrested and beaten to disclose her whereabouts (Ertelt 2012).Even when women decide to take measures to avoid having children,they might not have a say in the family method they want. This isapparent through forced sterilization, which makes it permanentlyimpossible for women to give birth. Research indicates that 80% ofwomen did not have a choice in their family planning method andaccepted what was suggested by the family planning employee (Hesketh,Lu and Xing 2005). The beatings and forced sterilization impede withwomen’s human rights. Any “democratic and sustainable approach tohuman reproduction must incorporate social, ethical and ecologicalcriteria (Bandarage 1998: 375).” China’s policy lacks suchcriteria. Forced sterilization is unethical and interferes withwomen’s ecological nature of reproduction. It is socially degradingto arrest and beat people. It is also a form of social injustice touse coercive means in forcing women not to give birth, whichBandarage (2013) refers to as a form of eugenicist method ofcontrolling population and gives the example of forced sterilization.

Sex trafficking has been on the rise in China following the onechild policy. This is apparent through a rise in the number of womensold into prostitution or to become wives. Due to widespreadsex-selective abortion following ultrasounds, the number of femalebirths in China has increasingly declined (Hesketh, Lu and Xing2005). On the other hand, the number of males in the country hasincreased. Currently, the country has a disproportionate ratio ofmales to females. Such sex imbalance has resulted in devastatingsocial implications. Such implications include “kidnapping andtrafficking of women for marriage and increased numbers of commercialsex workers (Hesketh, Lu and Xing 2005: 1173).” These socialbehaviors threaten the stability of China in future. They areproblems that can be blamed on the government. Bandarage (2013)notes, the failures to enhance social wellbeing can be blamed ongovernment’s enhancement of personal interests. While doing so,governments ignore what is important for society. He also argues thatthe pursuit for self desires is responsible for contemporary dilemmas(Bandarage 2013). China’s government through the one child policyhas encouraged the traditional preference of male children toproliferate. As such, the shortage of females results in other waysof getting wives and sex, like sex trafficking, which is an alarmingsocial problem.


Violations of human rights and sex trafficking are social problemsattributed to China’s one child policy. Human rights areincreasingly violated when women are forced to abort unapprovedpregnancies. Women and their relatives are subjected to beatings incases where they fail to cooperate with the policy stipulations.Also, the women’s right to decide on what family method to use hasbeen replaced with coercive methods like forced sterilization. Owingto the high number of males than females, sex trafficking in order toget wives as well as for sex workers has increased. It is apparentthat the policy has resulted in negative implications for China.


Bandarage, Asoka. 1998. Women, Population and Global Crisis: APolitical-Economic Analysis. London: Zed Books.

Bandarage, Asoka. 2013. Sustainability and Well-Being: The MiddlePath to Environment, Society and the Economy. Basingstoke and NewYork: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ertelt, Steven. 2012. China Marks 32 Years of Brutal Forced-AbortionOne-Child Policy. Retrieved March 28, 2016(

Hesketh, Therese., Lu, Li., and Xing Zhu W. 2005. “The Effects ofChina’s One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years.” The NewEngland Journal of Medicine 353(11): 1171-1176.