Beijing (AsiaNews) - In addition to a disastrous social imbalance and a dangerous economic deficit that threaten to break the country's accounts, China's infamous one-child policy has prompted local governments to tolerate (and in some cases support) human trafficking and sexual slavery, this according to the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons or TIP Report, which has downgraded China to a Tier-3 nation status.
Tier-3 applies to countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum standards and do not making significant efforts to limit transnational human trafficking, and the new sexual slavery. By the report's standard, China is in the same company as Iran, Sudan and North Korea.
The Chinese government reacted by defining the downgrade "an arbitrary judgment," but the main NGOs operating in the field agree with the US evaluation.
"The anger of the Chinese government against the TIP Report is misplaced," said Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers. The Chinese "should channel their anger toward taking effective action against traffickers, rather than against the exposure to the world of their abysmal record on human trafficking."
The TIP Report discusses how China's one child policy, combined with son preference, has caused a gender imbalance that is driving trafficking in brides and sexual slavery, not only within China but also from the surrounding countries.
According to Chinese demographers, 117 male babies are born in China for every 100 girls, a ratio that is far higher than the world average of 104 males per 100 females.
Since 1978, urban couples have been allowed only one child. In rural areas, couples have been allowed two. Thus, China's birth rate went from 5.83 children per couple in the 1970s, to 2.1 children in 1990, to the current 1.3. At present, about 40 million men cannot find a bride, experts estimate.
The data clearly shows how this drove slavery up. "Women and children from neighboring Asian countries, including Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Mongolia, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)" are brought into China for sex and procreation.
The TIP report mentions the case of young women and girls who are refugees or trafficked from North Korea into China. If they are sent home, they may face the death penalty because they have no way to get help.
In an open letter to Barack Obama and Xi Jinping during their first bilateral meeting, the WRWF called for action against the one-child policy, the source of all these evils.
"As you meet at Sunnylands today, we urge you to discuss ending the coercive enforcement of China's One Child Policy. This brutal policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth," the letter said, "and any official policy in the history of the world. It is state-sponsored violence against women" with "thousands or millions that suffer silently."
According to the NGO, 14.37 million abortions were performed last year in China, a quarter of the world total. Since its introduction, some 200 million forced abortions have been carried out.
In addition, most women subjected to this kind of violence end up on the operating table more than once, and this causes, according to a study by Cui Limin, serious health complications for the pregnancy they bring to term.
In her open letter to the two leaders, Littlejohn ends with a plea: "President Jinping, you are in a unique position to stop this horrendous violence against women. May the end of the One Child Policy be your enduring legacy to the Chinese people."