Christians and Muslims in Kerala, India are protesting a draft law which seeks to control population growth through fines, jail time and loss of government benefits.
The Kerala Women’s Code Bill would impose a fine of 10,000 rupees (US$200) or three months in jail for couples having more than two children, and bar such couples from receiving social benefits from the government. The law, which is being drafted by a committee headed by former Supreme Court Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, would also bar religious and political organizations from discouraging the use of contraceptives and other “family planning” measures.
Religious minority leaders are strongly opposed to the population control agenda in Kerala, and see the proposed law as an attack not only on their families, but on their religious values. Kerala, located in southwestern India, has a majority Hindu population, with Muslims comprising about 25 percent of the population, and Christians only 19 percent of the population.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) responded to the proposed law saying it was “anti-democratic and an infringement on the parental rights of the people.”
The law is an attempt to “undermine family values and divide society along communal lines” according to KCBC spokesman Father Stephen Alathara.
“It’s an attempt to curtail religious freedom and faith. We will oppose it,” said Muslim leader Abdul Samad Pukkottur of the state Sunni Youth Federation about the proposed measure.
A Catholic parish in Kerala is offering financial incentives for couples to have large families despite the intentions of some government officials to severely limit population growth.
“Every fifth child born in the family in our parish stands to get richer by 10,000 rupees,” said Salu Mecheril, regional coordinator of the program launched by St Vincent De Paul Forane Church. “It will be deposited [into a fund] in the name of the child.”
“I applaud our brothers and sisters in Kerala for standing up to these draconian anti-life measures,” said Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International (HLI). “Punishing families for bringing life into this world should be the last thing on the minds of any government body, and the threats to freedom of religion and freedom of speech must not be enshrined in law.”
“Christians, Muslims and all who respect the dignity of human life must resist the radical population control agenda being imposed in Kerala and around the world,” said Father Boquet.
LifeNews.com Note: Reprinted with permission from Human Life International’s World Watch forum. Adam Cassandra is a Communications Specialist at Human Life International.