Despite China’s rapid economic growth and expansion within the global stage, it has long been criticised for glaring human rights issues. The increasing proliferation of abuse on children is compounded by socio-economic factors involving work and family values. China’s historic cultural proverbs have endorsed strong philosophies on keeping problems within the family, as such these unshakable social traditions interfere when domestic abuse on children is hidden from the care system (Qiao and Chan, 2005). This insight portrays barriers in acknowledging physical and sexual abuse against children. Additionally, the limited state interference means that vulnerable children are left alone and without adequate protection.
Shocking cases of physical abuse against infants (overwhelming girls) have become commonplace within a society that prizes boys. One female, Luo Cuifen (26) discovered she had two dozen sewing needles embedded in her body, forcibly driven into her as an infant. It became clear that Cuifen’s grandfather intended to kill her as a baby, in response to wanting a grandson. This form of abuse can be directly related the one child policy that inevitably favours the traditional sole male heir to the family name and titles. This persistent infanticide has skewed gender ratios in China to ‘119 boys to 100 girls’ (Ni, 2007). This case is not unique, and many other female infants are frequently trafficked, abandoned and literally thrown away in response to producing a male heir.
Other high profile news stories have highlighted sexual abuse in rural areas, particularly sexual abuse on children within schools. Some reports suggest that many reported cases are ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as 60% of cases occur within the more remote rural areas (Wu, 2013). Many young victims do not realise the crimes committed against them, and as such will often not tell close family members. Children most at risk usually come from single parent families and those with divorced or remarried parents. Chinese micro-blogging websites have expressed their disgust with the transgression of care shown by many teachers who have perpetrated these crimes. Many commentaries have suggested the waning nobility of the profession. Increasingly, the percentage of children left behind by migrating parents from rural to urban employment has left children vulnerable. The ‘All China Women’s Federation’ suggests ‘37%’ of rural children are at risk from sexual abuse due to this migration phenomena. As such, many children are left without adequate guidance from parents who teach sex education and safety to their children. Particularly the use of self-protection methods like shouting, crying or saying no when they feel uncomfortable. This is exacerbated by parents traditionally not talking about sex education with their children in Chinese society.
China needs to implore wider reaching sex education within school environments to help safeguard children. In addition to expanding social structures that aim to protect vulnerable children. To what extent this will happen still remains unclear.