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Main | World Understanding Award | Finalist
Fernando Moleres
Panos / Laif


Jan Grarup
Noor Images

"Consequences! War & Climate refugees from the horn of Africa."

Christian Holst
Reportage by Getty Images

"Half a Century Without Freedom - Life under the Military Regime of Burma"

Richard Jones


Altaf Qadri
Associated Press


Andrea Star Reese


Richard Jones

"One Child Policy"

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China's Birth Policy, known as the One Child Policy was 30 years old in 2010. The policy has been described as the largest social experiment in the history of man. The policy was designed to halt the growth of world's most populous nation and limits families to a single child and farmers to two children - if the first-born is a girl. It has meant that children have the attention of both parents and two sets of grandparents. The children are known as China's "Little Emperors". The consequences of the policy reach into every Chinese citizens life and has wrought misery on un-told numbers. The birth policy is often achieved by brute force and coercion. Houses are destroyed, women are dragged into clinics for forced abortions and parents are often sterilized, sometimes by force. The natural preference for boys and heirs means that most of the officially estimated 400,000 aborted births are girls. Girls are traditionally seen as a "waste" or "spilt water." Foreigners have only been able to adopt girls (and handicapped boys).

The Chinese preference for boys has resulted in a lucrative black market in young males, who are often stolen from poor migrant families, who have no influence or money to bribe police to help them. A healthy male toddler sells for over 4000 US$. The preference for boys along with the availability of ultrasound technology has enabled selective abortions and a country-wide gender imbalance where boys greatly out-number girls. The national average is 118 males born for every 100 females, though in the southern tropical Island of Hainan the number is 168 males born for each 100 females. The consequences of this shortage of women mean many men face a future without partners and wives. The result has been a huge surge in the sex industry and the kidnapping and trade in young girls and women as well as cross-border trafficking of Burmese, Thais and Vietnamese brides.

There are officially over 30 million more men in China than women, the actual figure is likely much higher. Observers believe that the excess men will be filtered into China's expanding military machine in the coming century.


A girl is dressed up in traditional costume of a Chinese empress in the Forbidden City, Beijing, China. The One Child Policy has resulted in a nation of single children that are known as Little Emperors.

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