Frontiering the Chinese “West”: a Closer Look

Page 8-2
A NOTE ON FEMALE STOOP-LABOR IN THE UIGHUR COTTON BELT

44769_f785e5849f1e54d_native woen picking cotton

As the “bracera” harvester stooped over her row of flirtatious cotton flowers recedes into the world of Han ethnic nostalgia, we might further appreciate whatever the bitterness of job loss entails by offsetting the health cost in terms of shortened life span and bodily frailty (akin to osteoporosis) that afflicts the (mainly) non-Han women who have spend the best part of their young married lives doing this work for the PLA hierarchy.

The attached picture spread has been posted by a conscience-stricken blogster who fills in a gap or two left by the postcard smiles. http://img.blog.voc.com.cn/jpg/201109/30/44769_f785e5849f1e54d.jpg

The main problem is not stooping but re-stooping, as the back is lowered and raised over 10,000 times/day to collect the expected 60 kg (130 lbs, .3 US bales, 2 bales/week) as she earns her (at best) Ɏ 150 RMB per day gross wage (US$ 22). The punishment creates protrusion of intervertebral disc;lumbar disc protrusion;prolapse of intervertebral lumbar disc;protrusion of lumbar vertebral disc etc. which are are cousins to arthrities: without bone replacement surgery one is rheumatoid for life, and can only get relief by wearing nothing with heels and sleeping on a hard mattress. Worse still, the conditions persist even after the the stoop-labor work becomes unavailable.
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