Facing this reality, in 1988 the government in some provinces compromised just a little and agreed that couples who had a daughter as their first child would be allowed one more try to have a son — provided that there were no unauthorized births or other violations of the population policy by anyone in the couple’s village during that year. While giving a bit on the population front, this “reform” had the salutary effect — from the totalitarian point of view — of destroying peasant solidarity, which previously had acted to shield local women giving birth in hiding. Instead, hysterical group pressure was mobilized against such rebels, with everyone in the village transformed into government snoops to police their neighbors against possible infractions.
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