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The ‘leftover’ women: China defines official age for females being left on the shelf as 27

  • Millions of women say they have been thrown  on the scrap heap
  • Chinese government worries that unmarried  men could cause social havoc

By  Peter Simpson

PUBLISHED: 09:04 EST, 21  February 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:13 EST, 21 February 2013

The derogatory name has caused an outcry among millions of ambitious young and educated females who claim they have been thrown on the scrap heap
The derogatory name has caused an outcry among millions  of ambitious young and educated females who claim they have been thrown on the  scrap heap (file photo)

China has upset its young female population  by labelling those who fail to marry by the time they are 30 as ‘left over  woman’.

The Communist government ordered its feminist  All-China Women’s Federation to use the derogatory term in several stinging  articles about the growing number of educated, professional, urban and single  females aged 27-30 who have ‘failed’ to find a husband and are now  deemed  ‘undesirable’.

‘Pretty girls do not need a lot of education  to marry into a rich and powerful family. But girls with an average or ugly  appearance will find it difficult,’ reads one article titled ‘Leftover Women Do  Not Deserve Our Sympathy’.

The derogatory name has been picked up by the  state media and stuck, causing an outcry among millions of ambitious young and  educated females who claim they have been thrown on the scrap heap – and who  bemoan the low quality of suitors.

The conservative country is going under rapid  changes with more women shunning tradition to wed and raise a family  early.

But the government wants to shame them into  marrying young to counter the growing and serious gender imbalance among the of  1.3 billion population.

Selective abortions because of the one-child  policy means far more males are born then females – 118 boys to 100 girls.

The government is also worried hordes of  unmarried men roaming the country could spark social havoc.

Leta Hong-Fincher, an American academic  studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said: ‘Since  2007, the state media has aggressively disseminated the left over term in  surveys, and news reports, and columns, and cartoons and pictures, basically  stigmatising educated women over the age of 27 or 30 who are still  single.’

Since the one child policy was introduced in  1979, there are now about 20 million more men under 30 than women under  30.

And census figures show that around one in  five women aged 25-29 is unmarried.

The proportion of unmarried males that age is  over a third higher – but  Chinese men tend to ‘marry down’ both in terms of age  and educational  attainment.

More Chinese women are shunning the tradition of marrying young and having children. But the government wants to shame them into marrying young to counter the population's growing gender imbalance (file photo)More Chinese women are shunning the tradition of  marrying young and having children. But the government wants to shame them into  marrying young to counter the population’s growing gender imbalance (file  photo)

‘LEFT OVERS’: THE MALE  VIEW

Nine out of 10 men in China think women  should get married before 27

Sixty per cent say the ideal time is  25-27

One per cent believe the best age for a woman  to get married is 31-35

‘There is an opinion that A-quality guys will  find B-quality women, B-quality guys will find C-quality women, and C-quality  men will find D-quality women,’ Huang Yuanyuan, a confident and single  29-year-old who works in a Beijing radio station, told the BBC.

‘The people left are A-quality women and  D-quality men,’ she said.

But the Chinese Bridget Joneses are fighting  back, demanding the government ban the ‘left over women term.

The All-China Federation of Women has  recently dropped the label and now refers to ‘old’ unmarried women – but the  left over expression remains widely used elsewhere.

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