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June 30, 2012

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Migrants cause birth gender gap

MOST children born outside of the family planning policy in Shanghai last year were delivered by migrant people, whose strong preference for boys resulted in an unbalanced birth gender ratio, officials from the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

The population commission said it will enhance cooperation with hometown authorities of migrant people to improve family planning management and continue girl preferential policies while also banning non-medical sex checks and sex-selective abortions to control the gender imbalance.

The government has started a special campaign to administer ultrasonic machines and crack down on illegal clinics after recent reports from the local media, including Shanghai Daily, found unlicensed facilities were using animal-use ultrasound machines to check the gender of fetuses, officials said.

Between mid May and mid June, the city had removed 17,100 advertisements promoting illegal ultrasound checks and abortions. Also, 146 illegal clinics were shut down and 25 suspects were caught.

Officials said it is difficult to find underground clinics, which operate in rural areas and change locations frequently.

The city's birth gender ratio in 2011 was 113.1 boys for every 100 girls, higher than the desired norm of 103 to 107 boys for every 100 girls. The national average is 117.78 boys to 100 girls.

The imbalance is caused by migrants, mostly farmers who are keen to have boys rather than girls. Among migrants, the birth gender ratio was 119.1 boys to every 100 girls last year while the ratio among the registered population was 106.7 boys for every 100 girls.

Population officials said migrant people make use of loopholes in health policies. The city has built inexpensive maternity hospitals for migrant people to raise the percentage of hospital deliveries and reduce the mortality rate of pregnant women.

About 180,000 babies were born in the city last year, including 78,500 children from migrant people who have lived in the city for more than six months, authorities said.


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