Stern measures to deal with early marriages, high divorce rates and rapid population growth are urged in southern Xinjiang, according to a statement from a senior political advisor for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Wednesday.
Hou Hanmin, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), mentioned that the rural areas of southern Xinjiang saw high rates of early marriages and divorce in the recent years which resulted in high birth rates.
“This negatively affects not only the physical and mental health of children and women, but also the population quality in the region, posing risks to social stability,” Hou stated.
Based on the local family planning policies, a single Uyghur family can give birth to as much as three offsprings.
In August, Xinjiang Communist Party leader Zhang Chunxian penned in an official party magazine that all ethnic groups in Xinjiang should be given similar planning policies to decrease the high birth rate. Xinjiang officials even offered monetary rewards to advocate inter-ethnic marriages.
Many of the local couples did not adhere to marriage laws and did not register their marriages in local civil affairs bureaus, but instead chose to only acquire a religious wedding ceremony. Some young females, under heavy parental pressure and influence, are married by illegal religious personnel, according to Hou.
A survey reported that about half of 500 women in a village are married before turning 18 and becoming grandmothers at the early age of 34. Among those who are surveyed, 45 percent were divorced.
“Not following marriage law will make it hard for women who suffer domestic violence to safeguard their rights,” Hou mentioned, which hinted the need for education of the local population about strengthening the implementation and popularization of marriage laws.
Critics view the policies as a move to manage the proportion of minorities in Xinjiang or to support cultural assimilation. Uyghurs are bothered by the sudden influx of the Han Chinese in the region.