Tuesday, October 27, 2015

China: Economist suggests women should take several husbands

A professor's bold suggestion that Chinese women be allowed to take multiple husbands to help alleviate the consequences of the country's gender imbalance sparked heated debate this month.

Xie Zuoshi, an economics professor at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, published an article titled "The concerns of 30 million single men are groundless fears" on his Sina Weibo account on October 14 and two more articles on the topic a week later, which went viral online.

His articles came as the National Bureau of Statistics announced that the gender ratio at birth is dangerously imbalanced, with 115.88 boys born for every 100 girls in 2014 while the normal ratio is 103-107 boys to every 100 girls, which will lead to the country having 30 million more men than women by 2020. These men will have difficulty finding partners.

Xie suggested that richer men are more likely to get married, while poorer men will often become "leftovers."

"One of the ways (of solving this problem) is allowing women to take multiple husbands. This is not unheard of, as in some poor regions, some men will jointly marry one woman and they live happily," he wrote.

He described marriage as a business deal in which men have to be rich or talented. "If you are not rich or talented, you have to be young, good-looking and committed to the relationship, if you have none of these qualities, then don't think of having a beautiful wife."

Xie declined an interview request from the Global Times.

Widespread opposition

Many netizens criticized Xie's articles, saying that this idea is immoral and arguing that this practice, known as polyandry, is against China's marriage law. Many pointed out that wives are not commodity.

Xie replied to these critics that if the freedom for both men and women to choose how many people they marry was allowed, the gender imbalance would no longer be such a significant problem.

Xiao Zhonghua, former associate professor at the School of Politics and Administration at Wuhan University of Technology and now an independent economist, supported Xie and said it is moral to allow people the freedom to choose their marriage style to maximize the benefits of marriage.

"Xie's articles are ridiculous and it is breach of ethics because 'one man, one woman' marriage is a milestone marking human civilization and is adopted in many countries worldwide," Yuan Xin, a professor with the Institute of Population and Development at Tianjin's Nankai University, told the Global Times.

"You should never start a new problem just to tackle another, as polyandry and polygamy also bring their own problems to society," he added.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people participated in a poll on polyandry conducted by the website Sina. As of press time, more than 7,700 people said they disagreed with the practice.

Positive measures

However, the problem of having 30 million single men in China by 2020 is one with no clear solution in sight.

Both Yuan Xin and Lu Jiehua, a professor of demographics at Peking University, told the Global Times that there are no feasible ways to solve the problem of the huge number of "leftover" men.

Lu said it is likely that the 30 million men will be mostly poorer men and that the problem will be particularly serious in rural regions because men in more developed cities may be able to afford to marry women from other countries.

He said that the fundamental solution is to increase the social status of women so more people will be willing to give birth to girls, but that will take a long time to have an effect.

Yuan said that the government has to be prepared to take measures to deal with the social problems that may emerge as a consequence of the glut of bachelors, such as instability, sex-related crimes, human trafficking and even child trafficking.

The measures should help these men develop higher social status and provide pension support as they are very likely to be left without partners and children to support them when they become elderly.

He described such measures as "positive ways to deal with the problem," that he argued are better than transforming the current marriage system.

 By Yuen Yeuk-laam Source:Global Times

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