an outsider’s thoughts on sex-ed and such in China

Thought #1: You know that you’ve lived in China for a few months when you get on a public bus and all of the adverts are for abortions and you don’t even blink.

This one advertises them for about 300 yuan, or, say, $50 US abouts. The commercials on the TV have green hills and girls dancing in white skirts. I thought they were for laundry detergent until I saw the hospital name.

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Thought #2: Birth control pills are available in China over the counter for about $3 for a monthly pack, compared to the needed prescription and outrageous prices in most western nations. (I’m looking at you, America.) However, most people here don’t know too much about how the pills work—a friend who’d never seen the pills even suggesting to me that you don’t really need to take a pill every day, just the days that you plan to have intercourse. (And yes, the instructions in the box are written in Chinese.) And those people that do know about the pills believe they mess with your body’s natural chemistry and energy too much to take them. So birth control pills are not a big ticket item; there’s actually only ever about two or three brands to even choose from at the pharmacy. Culturally, the pill just isn’t big in China. It’s easily available and affordable, but the idea of messing with the natural order of a woman’s body is unappealing to many.

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Thought #3: Sex-ed in the classroom was explained to me by a friend as a chapter in a biology book Chinese high school students read for class, the teacher asking the next day if there were any questions, no one being brave enough to raise a hand, and on to the next chapter. Parent’s don’t typically broach the subject either. Some simple math for you: Lack of sex ed + wariness of birth control pills + cheap abortions = a high amount of abortions in China.

Thought #4: The one-child rule is pretty heavily enforced. Unless… you live in the countryside where nothing is really enforced, have twins, have an additional child overseas, pay the hefty fine, or get divorced and have another child with your new spouse. Or find some other loophole, of course.

Thought #5: Just a random, interesting note: It’s illegal in China for a doctor to tell the expecting parents the gender of their unborn child. According to my friends, a lot of the younger generation don’t hope for a girl or a boy one way or the other, though. Kids are doted upon by their parents—and grandparents—which sometimes can backfire and turn them into ‘Little Emperors’ or stressed out students burdened with the thought that they’re the only one around to support their parents when they retire.

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