01/12/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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One child policy gives birth to more boys and criminals

Skewed sex ratio might lead to rising crime rates.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A few days ago China's population crossed the 1.3 billion mark.  Experts expect it to reach 1.43 by 2020. However, there are concerns that it will be unusually skewed towards males.

A government demographer, Li Weixiong, said that by 2020 there will be 40 million men who will not be able to marry for lack of a partner. This is likely to lead to social instability.

Several Chinese sociologists expect such a skewed sex ratio to inevitably lead to a higher crime rate. Since Chinese society frowns upon unmarried men, the latter are likely to form gangs and engage in aggressive and antisocial behaviour

Data already show high levels of criminal activity among the young. In 2000, 35 per cent of all sentences for violent crimes (220,000) were against men under the age of 26.

To counter this trend, Professor Li Yongping, a demographer from Beijing University, has launched a campaign in the cities and the countryside to abolish the 23-year-old one-child policy.

The policy has led to selective abortions of female foetuses because of families' traditional preference for boys.

Although the law prohibits amniocentesis for the purpose of sex selection, some doctors will perform it illegally for a US$ 400-800 fee.

The end result is a skewed sex ratio that is 120 males per 100 females in urban areas, and 130-140 males per 100 females in the countryside.

According to Den Boer, a lecturer in international politics at the University of Kent in Britain, China's future might be that of a "society where violence and crime are rampant, or one where there is an authoritarian government and people are very controlled [. . .] Neither scenario is very positive."

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