Sunday, April 6, 2008

NYT's Howard French: Being a single mother in China

Howard French has an excellent piece about the tough life of single mothers in China where propaganda claims the revolution liberated women:

[After getting pregnant] The routine course for most women would have been to marry the man or to arrange an abortion. Ms. Lei, who was by then 33 and fiercely independent, did neither. Refusing to marry the man but afraid she might never have a child, she chose to become a single mother.

That decision carried implications that Ms. Lei never fully anticipated, marking her as something of a social outcast in a country that still strictly controls population growth and makes few concessions to women like her.

Today, at 41, Ms. Lei says she has no regrets, even after facing a life of bitter twists and turns: pretending to be divorced at one point to avoid bringing shame on her son and ultimately marrying a much older man in an effort to obtain the basic identification her boy needed to go to school or receive other social services.

For all this, Ms. Lei, who now lives with the older man in Beijing in what she describes as an abusive relationship, said she would do it all over again for her son. “I look at him today, and know it was worthwhile,” she said, tears forming in her eyes. “He is so lovely, I cannot regret it.”

Link to full article

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