Imagine you're a government official in a remote rural county in China. And you're concerned about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. What can you do?
Turns out it's easy! Just deny passports to all women between the ages of 16 and 35.
That's the solution arrived at by cunning immigration officials in Menglian County in Yunnan province. The reason authorities gave? "Since 2005, too many women from the area have gone abroad to become prostitutes; and when they come back home they spread sexually transmitted diseases such as Aids," says the Economic Reporter in China. "Besides, officials note, too many local young men haven’t been able to find wives because of this emigration."
Commentator Yang Tao concedes that some women from this impoverished region have indeed resorted to prostitution abroad. But he makes a logical deduction that apparently escaped Chinese officials: "If we follow this logic then a man with a passport might be engaged abroad in illicit activities, perhaps visiting prostitutes and bringing home unpleasant diseases of his own. Should their applications be rejected?"
Sadly, this isn't a lone case of madness. The Shanghai Daily notes that two other counties in Yunnan province have the same policy.