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An expectant mother chooses baby products at a shop in Beijing on October 30, 2015. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
An expectant mother chooses baby products at a shop in Beijing on October 30, 2015. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Disturbing data

Mysterious database of 1.8 million Chinese women lists whether they’re ‘BreedReady’

By WITW Staff on March 12, 2019

A database containing personal information about more than 1.8 million Chinese women — including whether or not they are “BreedReady” — has some activists worried about the lengths China’s government will go to combat the country’s declining birth rates.

Dutch technology expert Victor Gevers, who discovered the open database, said that it included fields labeled in English that listed each woman’s age, education, marital status, and something called their “BreedReady” status. Other fields were labeled “political” and “hasvideo,” and contained links to what appeared to be Facebook pages — odd, considering that Facebook is officially banned in China.

While the average age of the women in the database was 32, it included girls as young as 15 years old. Ninety percent of the women listed were single, Gevers said, and 82 percent were described as Beijing residents.

According to observers, the “BreedReady” tag appears to be a translation of Chinese terms relating to whether a woman has children or is of childbearing age. In one discussion thread of the database on Douban, a Chinese social networking website, users questioned whether they were living in “the prologue to The Handmaid’s Tale.” In that story, women are forced by the government to have children because of a fertility crisis. Others speculated that the data might merely contain information leaked from a Chinese dating website.

“This kind of database is very indicative and frightening,” wrote one user. “I’m a pessimist and the fact that stories like The Handmaid’s Tale exist means the signs are already there.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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