The latest Human Rights Report on China (2010) from the Department of State links the One Child Policy with high female suicide rates in China:
A high female suicide rate continued to be a serious problem. According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, there were approximately 500 female suicides per day in 2009. The Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center reported in 2009 that the suicide rate for females was three times higher than for males. Many observers believed that violence against women and girls, discrimination in education and employment, the traditional preference for male children, birth-limitation policies, and other societal factors contributed to the high female suicide rate. Women in rural areas, where the suicide rate for women was three to four times higher than for men, were especially vulnerable.
Stop for a minute and think about it: 500 female suicides per day in 2009. That’s 3,500 suicides per week. Fifteen thousand per month; 182,500 suicides per year. If the rate has remained constant throughout the years, we are looking at millions of females taking their own lives in a matter of decades.
The World Health organization put together a table to show the suicide rates per 100,000 by country and gender, using the most recent information available to them in 2011. There were only two other countries listed with higher female suicide rates than China: Korea and Sri Lanka. There were forty-seven countries listed with higher male suicide rates than China. Among these were many European countries, the United States, and Canada.
There was only one other country listed (other than China, of course) that had a higher female suicide rate than male suicide rate. That country was Sao Tome and Principe. (If you have never heard of that country, don’t worry. I hadn’t either. It’s an island off the west coast of central Africa.) This country reported no male suicides and a very small amount of female suicides.
So what is it about China that makes it have 1) one of the highest female suicide rates in the world and 2) a female suicide rate that is higher than the male suicide rate?
The people of China have had a difficult modern history. There was the Cultural Revolution and the embracing of Communism. The Communist regime, while promising freedom and wealth to all, actually accomplished the opposite. But think about it: China isn’t the only country that has experienced a difficult past. Eastern Europe took a similar path to China’s and embraced Communism, causing a decline in its respective countries’ economies. There are many third-world countries that deal with poverty and need day in and day out. Plus, in recent years China has been opening up, becoming more modern, and even choosing to be more relaxed in its policies. You would think that these new trends would have the effect of bringing down the suicide rate.
What is one thing that differentiates China from the rest of the world? The One Child Policy. Imagine a woman aborting her child because that child is female, and then imagine that woman having to live with the guilt of her decision. Imagine a woman who desperately wants her daughter, but has that daughter forcibly stripped from her womb. Imagine a Chinese girl growing up knowing that her parents wished she were a boy, because then she would have a greater value. Imagine young girls being kidnapped and sold as brides. This does not sound like preservation of the value and dignity of a female life. This sounds like hopelessness and despair. And China’s female suicide rate proves it.