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Washington Post: Redefining China's Family

Authors: Travis Fox, and Maureen Fan
May 15, 2007



As part of the China project, Washington Post takes a detailed look at social and economic factors reshaping China's traditional families.


SANSHILIUGUNZI VILLAGE, China -- Zhao wanted to sleep. Her husband wanted to watch TV. It was as simple as that.

The poor farming couple in Hebei province had no history of quarreling, Zhao said. But on this warm September night, neither would compromise. So Zhao, 34, left the large bed she and her husband shared with their two young sons, walked outside and grabbed a bottle of pesticide from a windowsill.

"I just drank a little bit, but it burned my throat and my mouth," said Zhao, who tends the crops, cares for her two boys, now 5 and 10, and runs a household of seven. "I took it without thinking anything deep. I just felt wronged, and I acted rashly. I never thought of the two children, not a bit. I thought of nothing."

The sense of despair that Zhao felt seems to prevail here in rural China, particularly among women, many of whom shoulder the burdens of domestic life alone. Often, the only escape they see is to take their own lives.

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