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South Korean website mapping women of childbearing age pulled after backlash
Associated Press - January 1, 2017
The Ministry of the Interior's website featuring the pink birth map was closed a day after its launch, showing instead a notice that the site was undergoing corrections to reflect public opinion.
The website went offline after just a few hours following criticism the Government was trying to shame women for not having babies. Some said the Government treated the birth rate issue as concerning only women, pointing out that no picture of men was used on the website.
Using pink as the main colour, the site contained information on birth rates, benefits from local governments on child rearing, average marriage age and other data. At the top of the website was a picture of a woman kissing a little girl.
In the birth map, the regions with a higher number of female residents aged 15-49 were coloured in dark pink, while the regions with a lower number of such women were shown in light pink.
The site also featured a ranking of regions by the number of women aged 15-49. Users could look up how many women who could have a baby resided in their neighbourhood for the past 10 years.
'I felt so angered'
Many users reacted with wonder and anger, saying they did not understand what the number of women who could get pregnant had to do with encouraging people to have more babies.
"I felt so angered that it blatantly showed how the Government saw women's bodies as the country's reproductive tools, not belonging to the woman," said Lee Min-kyung, a 24-year-old feminism writer. "I felt like nothing has changed and the hatred of women that I have experienced appeared again."
The Government had touted the site as a tool to increase the public's understanding of the country's low birth rate and compare the benefits from local governments for having a baby or raising a child.
"It was established to encourage local governments to learn and compare other government benefits and to promote free competition," the Ministry said in the press release distributed at the time of its launch.
Calls seeking comments were not answered on Friday.
South Korea is struggling to boost its rock-bottom birth rate, one of the lowest among rich countries. This year the country also saw growth of vocal feminist movements protesting misogynist views reflected in government policies and pop culture.