The first academic research in the nation which put left behind women as main objective of study did not come out until 2002.
The Chinese rural left behind women have emerged along with the rural population who has migrated in the country called internal migration after Chinese Economic Reform in the early 1980s.
Usually, after rural men migrate in the cities, women left behind in the countryside have been become the major labour force in the Chinese agriculture.
Because the together time between the couples has been decreasing, and the discrepancy of urbanization level between genders has gradually extended which trended to induce the societal heterogeneity between genders more large, the possibility of divorce rate has been consequently increasing. One sample study in a county of one central province showed that 65% of the divorce cases in 2008 were involved with rural women who were left behind.
These left behind women were also called left behind wives with a mean age of 38.29 years old. 82 per cent of this population was aged from 31 to 45 years old. It was estimated that the number of women left behind in Chinese rural areas is 47 to 50 million.
It was more likely for women left behind to be the victims of the crimes in the rural community where their husbands were absent. There were many extreme violent cases reported by the studies and news papers, such as, violent rape, robbery.
The situation of leaving the land uncultivated was identified as a new problem in current Chinese rural areas.
Generally, women left behind would take two strategies to handle the problems of the farm labour shortage and the over workload.
This population of women left behind becomes the major productive force in the agriculture industry of rural areas.
The Survey and Reflection on the Life Situation of Rural Women Left Behind by Ding in 2007 revealed that among sexual assault cases in rural area, 62% victims were women left behind, and 37% of the household left behind were the victims of the burglary.
Because women has been the only work face in millions farmer families as men’s migration, besides of agriculture work, these women also assumed a traditional workload, that was, doing housework, raising the children, providing care for the old people, and at the same time raising livestock and poultry to subsidize the family expenses. In addition, the divergent character of household land made it difficult to operate the mechanized farming, which meant that the agricultural farming has to rely on the elementary manual labour by women. Some survey in a south-western province showed that in busy season, the women’s mean work hours per day was 11 hours, among them, about 20% women had to work for more than 12 hours a day. Even in the free season, 58% women had to work for more than 8 hours per day, 20% women more than 10 hours. Almost 80% women reported there was no leisure time for them.
Chinese rural women left behind are increasingly affected by various social, economic, and demographic changes that directly or indirectly influence their health negatively. Many surveys on Chinese women left behind reported that majority of this population has been suffering physical health problems, including reproductive tract infection, maternity disease, occupational diseases, as well as high-risk of STIs or HIV/AIDS.