Question on census form labelled ‘offensive' and ‘insensitive' to many women

See all newsletters, August 10, 2021

Many women have been brought to tears over an “insensitive” and “offensive” question in the census about babies.Source:News Regional Media

Molli Sarafov only recently lost her son to stillbirth and it made a question about children on the census form this week all the more painful.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics census question asked: “How many babies has (name) ever given birth to?”

Participants were told to exclude adopted, foster and step children.

But Ms Sarafov, from western Sydney, said the question caught her off guard.

“I was in tears,” she said on Wednesday.

“I wasn’t sure what to write and I tapped the button for more information, but that just said something about how the ABS was trying to record statistics on the age of fertility of women, so didn’t help anyone in my situation answer the question.”

See all newsletters, August 10, 2021

Many people have criticised the ABS question about babies.Source:News Regional Media

Red Nose co-chief executive Jackie Mead said she was also disappointed to see the question.

“It was worded so poorly and could be so offensive to so many women, including the many who have lost a baby,” she said.

“Sadly, one in four Australian pregnancies end in miscarriage and one in 135 ends in stillbirth. This is an issue that affects so many women.

“Many women have told us today they are upset and confused about the abrupt way this question was worded and many were left in tears while completing their census.”

Many other people have also complained on social media about the question targeting women.

The Party Games newsletter Get your political briefing from’s political editor Samantha Maiden.

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“Thanks to census, for two days I’ve been reminded society views me as a woman without children,” one woman wrote.

“Where’s the question asking how many babies have men created? Also what about women who have lost children during pregnancy?”

Thanks to Census for 2 days I’ve been reminded society views me as a woman without children! Where’s the question asking how many babies have men created? Also what about women who have lost children during pregnancy?

— Crumbs and Corks (@crumbsandcorks) August 10, 2021

Another person wrote: “Census asking me how many babies I’ve popped out feels like a dig at my uterus. Might as well ask the penis owners how many times they’ve impregnated someone.”

Another woman posted: “I was asked how many babies I’d given birth to on the census so naturally I expected my husband would be asked how many children he’s fathered. Spoiler: he wasn’t.”

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