John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Because it's their fault that married men cheat on their wives, the reasoning goes.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (past editions):
HAVING BABIES OUT OF WEDLOCK, IN CHINA
The leaders of Wuhan, a 10-million-resident city in central China, think extramarital affairs are bad. So what have they done? In a proposed redrafting of the city's birth regulations, they suggest imposing a "child-rearing fee" onto women who can't prove the identity of their babies' fathers or who have kids with married men who aren't their husbands, reports the International Business Times.
This would appear to be the first regulation of its kind in China, already notorious for maintaining an iron grip on women's wombs. Human-rights watchers have long decried the country's one-child policy, which has stuck countless poor women who can't pay an additional-child fine with sterilizations and forced abortions. That policy is finally on the wane, though, which makes this new development in Wuhan seem so out of place.
The IBT explains the background to the proposed measure, which even to misogynists probably smells like gender discrimination:
The regulation is in large part an attempt to discourage extramarital affairs, and to combat the trend in recent years for wealthy and successful Chinese men to keep mistresses. "Ernai," which means second wife, and "xiaosan," which means a third person in a marriage, have both become ubiquitous terms in China for mistresses.
A vociferous backlash has prompted Wuhan's regulators to backpedal a little. They stress that the regulation is still a rough draft and contend that a "fee" isn't the same thing as a "fine."
Still, if this "fee" were to make it onto the books, some locals believe it could lead to more abandoned children, like that baby that firefighters rescued from a sewage pipe last week after somebody flushed it down a toilet. As a Shanghai gender-equality researcher told CBS News: "If the policy is approved, there could be more 'sewer babies,' because when mothers can't afford the cost, they might think about throwing their babies away."
MEANWHILE, IN OTHER BANNING NEWS...
• Google Glass has been banned in casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, reports the Associated Press. A New Jersey gaming-enforcement honcho claims the glasses could be exploited by cheaters: "If these eyeglasses were worn during a poker game, they could be used to broadcast a patron's hand to a confederate or otherwise be used in a collusive manner."
• Another Indian city has outlawed public exercises in "laughter yoga," that weird activity where people perform stretches while furiously chortling. Last time it was Mumbai, and now it's Hyderabad, where forestry officials claim the nonstop guffawing would "scare away" animals.
• Iowa City is planning to outlaw anything resembling automated surveillance equipment. A bill pending before the city council would drum the following out of town: license-plate scanners, red-light cameras and drones. The citizen's group that pushed for the ban has adopted the war cry, "1984 was NOT supposed to be an instruction manual."