Willy hated dirty things. Willy would refuse to eat in a restaurant if he found a mark on a glass. At 23, he was trying hard to shake off country habits, like his accent. But some stuck like burrs until others dislodged them. I was scared of her. Willy and I had worked together at a summer programme in Beijing in , teaching the winners of a Henanese English competition, including Mia.
They were sweet but conventional provincial teenagers, excited to be in the capital. Born with scoliosis, she stood around 4ft 6in, her back crooked and walking with the aid of crutches. Mia was smart, dry, and curious. Sometimes mistaken for a child, she wore small, stylish earrings and a sharp haircut to mark herself out as an adult. When we climbed the steep stairs at the Forbidden City together, she refused my arm. Mia could win over anybody who knew her.
But to get those chances meant battling past a wall of entrenched prejudice and fear. Despite her intelligence, she had not received any university offers, and her chances of employment were worryingly slight. Meanwhile, figures published in Chinese state media last year show that only a quarter of disabled people are able to find any form of employment. I f you judged the country by its laws alone, China would be a global leader on disability rights. But despite the high concerns of the law, Chinese cities make little concession to disabled people. As the sociologist Yu Jianrong has documented, raised pathways for the blind often lead into dead ends, bollards, trees or open pits, or else spiral decoratively but misleadingly.
We sat in a concrete pavilion just outside the hospital in Tangshan, together with two others left unable to walk by the earthquake of Nowhere in town is reachable by wheelchair. And all our welfare money is taken by the doctors anyway. The Beijing Paralympic Games saw a spate of Potemkinisation. Ramps were hastily installed at hotels and stadiums. Ambitious government pledges go unfulfilled across the country. The law says that children with special needs are entitled to proper schooling, but there are no provisions for funding.
As a result, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, 43 per cent of disabled Chinese people are illiterate, compared with 5 per cent of the general population. Only a third receive the services they need, according to Handicap International, and only a fifth get assistive devices, such as walkers, prosthetics, or adapted software.
In the countryside, disabled children fare far worse. Often, they are confined within the house and kept away from outside eyes. Sometimes they are chained to prevent escape, or to ease the pressure on parents or grandparents already struggling under poverty and shame. As I write this at 3am, I can hear the grind of an earthmover outside laying the foundations of another mall in central Beijing.
I will be good! Every so often, pictures of children chained up like dogs surface online — such as the photos of the year-old boy He Zili last November — prompting a brief-lived spasm of anger and pity. Most commonly, these children are confined by parents who simply have no choice; without community or government aid, and with child kidnappings and abuse common, parents lock away children simply to protect them. Like European child welfare before the s, the Chinese system is riddled with sexual and physical abuse.
Yet it is not only disabled children who are abused. Disabled adults are sometimes kidnapped or enslaved, as in a notorious series of cases in when dozens of people were rescued from forced labour in brick kilns in west China. Some had been taken in by organisations purporting to care for the mentally handicapped, and then sold hundreds of miles away. I n part, the gulf between law and practice stems from the institutional problems that plague every aspect of government in China. Yet as the CDPF became institutionalised, it stopped being an activist movement, and became a government bureaucracy that wields massive power in the lives of disabled people but has little sway within the government hierarchy.
The percentage of disabled people inside the CDPF dropped sharply after the s, and positions started to be handed out as nepotistic sinecures.
Marginalization and Social Welfare in China - AbeBooks - Linda Wong:
For most CDPF officials, their job is a simple posting in a bureaucratic career, not an advocacy role. They just think disabled people are always asking for money. But even when the CDPF has been able to act, corruption, prejudice, and poor administration have limited its value.
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National regulations mandate that 1. Collecting these fines was left up to the CDPF, which seldom had sufficient clout to get the money. In , however, the tax authorities were made responsible for collecting the fine, and revenues jumped significantly. They passed the funds back to the CDPF, which suddenly found itself flush with cash.
Marginalization and Social Welfare in China. Linda Wong. Publisher: Routledge , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title This book provides a systematic analysis that defines and accounts for the contours and operation of China's welfare system. Synopsis : Marginalization and Social Welfare in China examines how those claiming benefits fare under the existing social welfare arrangements and is structured around four main issues: What are the characteristics of the social welfare system with regard to state policy, philosophical values, delivery systems and funding?
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What Has Been Marginalized? Marginalization as the Constrained ‘Right to the City’ in Urban China
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