It appeared to be good news when China announced in October that it planned to end to its brutal one-child policy in 2016. A new report from the BBC even indicates that some Chinese population police are working on a new educational program to help rural children.
Despite the seemingly good news, little has changed since the communist nation approved a new two-child policy. Stringent pregnancy and birth control checks and reports of forced abortions and forced sterilizations indicate that the policy has done nothing to stop human rights abuses.
Started in 1980, the one-child policy, which is the most severe in the world, has resulted in severe human rights abuses. Family planning officials frequently jail couples who refuse to comply, sentence them to house arrest or labor camps, revoke jobs or governmental support, use physical harassment or violence, force women to have abortions and target other family members.
In the new BBC report, journalist Lucy Ash interviewed Li Bo, one of a small group of population control officers who are working with toddlers as part of the new academic program. Li Bo is described as a “Chinese Father Christmas” who brings toys and books for rural children to help them learn.
This new role paints population control police in a positive light, drawing attention away from the abuses they continue to commit. However, Ash reported that Li Bo’s job also is to ensure that women do not get pregnant or give birth without the government’s permission. When asked about the number of abortions he pressured women to have, Ash reported that Li Bo looked awkward and said he didn’t know.
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According to the report:
Since the start of 2016, all Chinese couples have been allowed two children. But they can have no more than that unless they are from ethnic minorities – so Li Bo still spends some of his time working as a birth-control enforcer.
In the town’s health clinic he is busy screening local women.
All women of childbearing age have compulsory check-ups four times a year to ensure they’re healthy… and not pregnant without permission. If a couple wants to start a family, they need to seek official approval before trying to conceive. The woman’s medical history is logged in a little red book. It lists the children she has, contraception she uses and any terminated pregnancies.
After her ultrasound examination, I ask a woman holding the hand of small boy, if she is thinking about another baby. “Not yet!” she laughs. “My husband says it’s too much financial pressure.”
… [Li] has a playful side and says he relates well to children because he is really “just a big kid” himself.
But Li is also a loyal Communist party official who believes the state knows best and society’s needs are greater than those of individuals.
So he is matter-of-fact about the unpleasant task of telling women who couldn’t afford the fine to terminate their pregnancies.
“China was facing serious problems with a large population,” he says. “We also told couples that more children would lower their standard of living and it was not in their child’s interest either.”
Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, told LifeNews that the new policy has not stopped forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations in China. Find a video about it here.
“Unmarried women and third children continue to be forcibly aborted. Women are still routinely sterilized after their second child,” Littlejohn said.
She said the Chinese army of family planning officials is estimated at 1 million, and their population control tactics are used to quell growing unrest inside China.
“… people should not come away with the false impression that all or even most of China’s brutal ‘abortion police’ are being repurposed as an army of ‘Chinese Father Christmas.’ This is far from the case,” Littlejohn said. “I do not believe that China will repurpose its family planning army, because the infrastructure of coercion instituted under the One Child Policy can be turned in any direction to crush dissent of any sort.”
The BBC report also indicates that families remain fearful of the population control officials. One family shared how they tried to hide a pregnancy from the government and then suffered the consequences. The husband was kidnapped and beaten and the wife forced to abort their unborn child more than six months into the pregnancy.
“The baby was well-formed,” the grandmother said. “You could even see his fingernails. He was a bit small, but very well-developed already.”
The family met the reporter in a restaurant, fearing that they would be punished for telling their story.
Littlejohn said she also has learned of women who are permanently disabled because of forced sterilizations, some left without the strength to draw well water for their family.
“We call upon the Chinese government to call off the womb police and immediately to abandon all coercive population control,” Littlejohn said.
Action: Sign the Women’s Rights Without Frontiers petition to end forced abortion here.