Saturday, May 8, 2010

China’s Arranged Remarriages

The NY Times reports on China’s Arranged Remarriages among widows and widowers whose spouses died in the devastating earthquake that destroyed towns in Sichuan on May 12, 2008.
It is an unusual demographic event, which created a thick pool of potential (re)marriage partners.
"Coaxing earthquake survivors into remarriage has become a community obligation. Unlikely volunteers have joined in the matchmaking efforts, from former in-laws to the leaders of the local Communist “work units” to which every family in this part of rural Sichuan is still assigned. Behind them is the Chinese government. The state, which has long seen fit to intervene in the most private aspects of people’s lives, including reproductive rights, has avidly promoted — and in some cases even arranged — what it dryly calls “restructured families.”
By the end of 2008, less than eight months after the earthquake, 614 survivors from Beichuan alone had already remarried, according to Wang Hongfa, a local civil-affairs official. (The number across Sichuan’s earthquake zone, though not made public, is estimated to be well into the thousands.) That so many earthquake survivors have already remarried is not surprising in itself; but in many cases, these are widows marrying widowers, two survivors striving to get back onto solid ground. "

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