Heihaizi: China’s Miserable ‘Black Children’

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Heihaizi or Black Children is the label branded on a kid born outside China’s one child policy. If you are a parent, your second child is labeled as a Heihaizi and he or she is deprived of a Hukou or a legal document that serves as an identification, similar to a social security card.

If you want to legalise your second child, you have to pay a hefty fine, which the government calls a ‘social maintenance fine’. Unable to do so will see your child be termed as a black child.

Lives of these black children are often miserable. They do not have a right to pursue education, are deprived of healthcare, a formal job or a legal marriage, living for all intents and purposes, as second class citizens in their own country.

“I was born here, but I don’t have any of the rights of a Chinese person,” said one such Heihaizi. “Whatever I do, I’m blocked and have difficulties. There is nothing in China that proves whether I even exist or not.”

“I began to see that my life was entirely different from those around me, and it was because I had no hukou,” she told AFP.

Her mother Bai Xiuling added: “She used to cry and tell me, ‘Mom, I just want to go to school!’, but there was no way for her to do so.

“We’d have to go to the neighbours to beg for some medicine if she was sick.”

The Heihaizi are often forced to resort to crime, working with organised crime syndicates in prostitution, drugs trafficking, extortion, etc. It is no secret that parents often sell these children on the black market for money.

Recent changes made by the Chinese government will change the lives of the Heihaizi significantly, which is a welcome change after centuries of discrimination and violation of basic human rights.

According to the new policy “couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents was an only child.”

A step in the right direction, definitely, but it still fails to address the needs of millions of Heihaizi living outside the system already.

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