When A Woman’s Body Becomes the Domain of the State—Part I
WASHINGTON—China’s one-child policy, which began with the “Population and Family Planning Policy” in 1978, involves mandatory contraception, mandatory birth permits, exorbitant fines for noncompliance, physical beatings of relatives, and often forced sterilization and abortion, according to the U.S. State Department, Congressional commissions, and numerous media and eye-witness accounts.
The invasion into the privacy of citizens is carried out by the PRC's ubiquitous Population and Family Planning Offices (PFPO). Forced abortion in the last stages of pregnancy, even in the ninth month, is legal and often carried out in China when the mother lacks a birth permit.
“China’s population control policy is violence against women and violence against children—by the hundreds of millions. It is the worse violation of women’s rights in human history,” said Congressman Chris Smith from New Jersey, who chaired the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (called the “Lantos Commission”) hearing Nov. 10 on China’s one-child policy.
The Lantos Commission heard testimony on China’s coercive family planning measures from several China human rights advocates and a demographer—people who are to some degree detached from the policy. However, on this occasion the Commission also heard from a witness, who was forced by Chinese officials to undergo an abortion.
The forced abortion victim’s identity and face were hidden behind screens to protect her and her family from retaliation from the Communist Party. She was given the name “Wujian” at the hearing.
Wujian began by explaining that she lacked a permit for pregnancy or the birth permit, and was pregnant. She hid in a dark building without electricity, and feared every time a car passed by. She learned that the Family Planning authorities were beating her father daily, and would continue until she went to the hospital for an abortion.
Before she could decide between her baby’s life and her father’s, her hiding place was discovered and the Family Planning people dragged her into a van. Wujian was taken to a “hospital,” where she saw a hundred pregnant moms there, “like pigs in a slaughterhouse,” she said. Then she was taken to a room with several mothers who had undergone forced abortion.
“Some moms were crying, some moms were mourning, some moms were screaming, and one mom was rolling on the floor with unbearable pain. … Then I kept saying to [the abortionist], ‘How could you become a killer by killing people every day?'” The nurse was unresponsive to her pleas. “She … told me that there was nothing serious about this whole thing for her. She did these all year.”
The witness said she was astonished when the nurse told her that the county did over 10,000 forced abortions just for that year. “I realized that my baby and I were just like a lamb on the cutting board. Finally, she put the big, long needle into the head of my baby in my womb. At the moment, it was the end of the world and I felt even time had stopped.”
As Wujian explained her ordeal, the Congressional hearing room became subdued, with some in the audience appearing visibly distraught. “Physically I recovered after about a month, but psychologically and spiritually—never!” she said loudly.
Wujian said that “very often I could not forgive myself. … I [know] that there are millions of Chinese sisters suffering and will suffer the same thing that I suffered. … How could this human crime be stopped?”
The Consequences of Coercive Population Policies
China boasts that an estimated 400 million births—greater than the entire population of the United States—have been “prevented” through the one-child policy, according to the China Daily, July 7, 2008. The unintended consequences of this policy are dire. The male to female sex ratio for the infant to four-year-old age group was 120.8 males for every 100 females in 2000, according to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) 2009 report. This ratio is much higher than the global average of 105 to 100. In at least five provinces the ratio dominance of males to females was 130 to 100.
It’s commonly believed that these statistics are the result of sex-selective abortions where sons are traditionally preferred over daughters. The technology of ultrasound, whereby the sex of the fetus can be identified, combined with the one-child policy are fostering this abnormal sex ratio, especially in the rural areas, according to the 2009 CECC report.
“Because of abortion, abandonment, and infanticide of baby girls, there are an estimated 37 million Chinese men who will never marry because their future wives were terminated before they were born,” said Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, who drew from a 2007 population projection that was printed in the People’s Daily.
“This gender imbalance is a powerful, driving force behind trafficking in women and sexual slavery, not only in China, but all over Asia,” Littlejohn said.
Littlejohn quoted sources that China has the majority of female suicides in the world, five times the world average, which in raw numbers is approximately 500 per day, according to World Health Organization reports.