With both the nation’s birth rate and the number of marriages falling every year, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) yesterday urged the public to be more accepting of illegitimate children.
“Giving birth to a child out of wedlock is not illegal, and the law also allows the mother — or father — to register the child at Household Registration Offices,” Chien said. “I think the public should be more accepting of the phenomenon, while the government should also be more prepared for it, since there may well be more children born out of wedlock in the future.”
Chien added he was not discouraging people from getting married or encouraging people to have children out of wedlock.
“I am just saying that this social phenomenon — and possible trend — should be more accepted,” he said. “After all, children born out of wedlock are still part of the population in this country.”
Chien expressed concern that the decreasing childbirth rate may have a negative impact on the future of the nation.
Last year, an average of 1.02 children were born per woman — the number was 1.05 in 2008, 1.1 in 2007, and 1.55 in 1999, according to figures provided by the Ministry of the Interior’s (MOI) Department of Household Registration.
Last year, 7,472 children were born out of wedlock, 0.3 percent of the 191,310 children born that year, MOI figures show.
Having children before marriage is still considered unacceptable by the general public, which is one of the reasons for the large number of abortions each year, Chien said, adding that the ministry has no official tally on the number of abortions per annum, as terminations for anything other than medical reasons are prohibited by law.
Chien conceded that the government itself is not well prepared to deal with people who have children out of wedlock.
“In France, the average number of births per woman is 1.9 now, but the number was somewhere around 1.4 to 1.5 a few years ago,” he said. “The French government now provides a lot of assistance and different types of pensions and subsidies for pregnant women and those with newborn children.”
“We also need a better adoption system in place, so that those who are pregnant out of wedlock but can’t afford to raise a child may still be willing to give birth,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MOI yesterday announced a contest for slogans to encourage people to have more children.
“We are looking for a creative slogan that will make people want to have their own children,” Chien said. “It doesn’t matter what your nationality is, as long as you turn in a slogan that is in Chinese, and is no longer than 20 characters including punctuation.”
The first-place winner will receive a NT$1 million (US$31,000) cash prize. For details, check the official event site, which will be launched on Monday at http://100.moi.gov.tw.