Excerpts from a talk by Reggie Littlejohn, Palace of Westminster (London, UK) 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., Committee Room 8. The topic is China's 1 child/forced abortion policy and practice.
On March 8, 2011 the world marked the milestone of the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. While we celebrate the great advance of women’s rights in many nations, women in other nations have seen a decline. As the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, I am dedicated to the plight of the 100 million missing women who are victims of “gendercide,” the sex-selective abortion of baby girls. And let us not forget the women in China who are victims of the One Child Policy, which is enforced through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. I have been asked to speak about China's One Child Policy in the context of "Sexual and Reproductive Rights." The women of China have had perhaps their most fundamental sexual and reproductive right stripped away: the right to bear children.
Most people know that China has a One Child Policy. Very few people stop to think about how it’s enforced – through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. The coercive enforcement of China’s One Child Policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth. It is the largest women’s rights issue in the world today, affecting one out of every five women in the world.
The One Child Policy causes violence against women and girls in the following ways:
1. Forced Abortion. First, forced abortion is violent. Women are literally dragged out of their homes. These forced abortions can happen up the ninth month of pregnancy. Sometimes the women themselves die.
I am holding a photo of Liu Dan. In 2009, she was 21 years old and 9 months pregnant when family planning police grabbed her out of her home, dragged her pleading and crying to the local family planning office, and forcibly aborted her full term baby. They did this even though they already knew from medical tests that she had high blood pressure and that a forced late term abortion would be dangerous for her. After the forced abortion, she lay alone and unconscious in an operating room in the family planning center. Sensing something was wrong, her fiancé burst into the room at 3:00 a.m. to find her bleeding from the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Even so, the family planning police refused to call for emergency help, until her family insisted. Help arrived too late. Liu Dan died, along with her full term baby.
I believe that forced abortion as it is practiced in China is official government rape. It is the violent, state sanctioned penetration of a woman to destroy her bodily integrity. A victim of forced abortion, like a victim of rape, is traumatized physically, emotionally and spiritually. She will never be the same again. Forced abortion tramples on the human dignity of women. Any discussion of women’s rights, of human rights, or of human dignity, would be a charade if forced abortion in China is not front and center. Rather, the Chinese Communist Party's forced abortion policy is systematic, institutionalized violence against women.
The brutality extends to family members as well. I am holding a photo of Xin Liu of Leiyang City, Hunan Province. His wife had an illegal, second child without a birth permit. On the evening of March 7, 2008, family planning officials burst into their home to collect the fine. Xin Liu asked them “to enforce the law in a civilized manner,” but the cadres refused. Instead, they beat him and his brother-in-law, then smashed a bottle over his head, at his temple. He fell to the floor, bleeding and unconscious. His 70 year old mother laid down, held him in her arms, and begged the cadres to take him to the hospital. They refused and kicked her in the abdomen. Xin Liu now suffers from permanent disability.
2. Forced Sterilization. Forced sterilization is also violent and can lead to life-long health complications.
3. Gendercide. Because of the traditional preference for boys, girls are selectively aborted, resulting in the snuffing out of little female lives. It is estimated that there are 100 million women and girls missing in the world today due to sex selective abortion. This is called gendercide, the sex-selective abortion of baby girls.
4. Sexual Slavery. Because of this gendercide, there are an estimate 37 million more men than women living in China today -- 37 million frustrated men who will never marry because their future wives were aborted before they were born. This gender imbalance is in turn the driving force behind human trafficking and sexual slavery, not only within China but also the surrounding countries, including North Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Mongolia and Thailand.
5. Infanticide. Regarding infanticide, in May of 2010, crematorium workers in Guangdong Province found an infant crying in a “medical waste” receptacle on its way to being cremated, reports Xinhua, China’s official news agency. The crematorium workers immediately sent the infant back to the hospital. Later that day, the hospital sent the infant back to the crematorium, dead. The hospital offered no explanation of the cause of death.
Also, read the chilling document called “Best Practices – Infanticide.” It’s a web-based discussion copied from the official website for Chinese obstetricians and gynecologists about how best to kill infants being born alive during induced labor forced abortion. [Note: To read this document, click here. http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=congressional.]
6. Female Suicide. China has the highest female suicide rate in the world. According to the World Health Organization, 500 women end their lives every day in China. I don’t think that the despair that leads to suicide is unrelated to the coercive enforcement of the One Child Policy.
Forced abortion. Forced sterilization. Infanticide. Gendercide. Sexual slavery. Suicide. These are the unintended consequences of the One Child Policy.
Chen Guangcheng. Not only are the women themselves persecuted, but those who stand up for them are persecuted as well. Blind activist Chen Guangcheng is a national hero in China, because he has had the courage to stand up against the hated One Child Policy. Chen exposed the fact that there were 130,000 forced abortions and sterilizations in Linyi County in 2005. For this he was jailed for four years and three months, tortured, and denied medical treatment. Last month a video featuring Chen Guangcheng was leaked to the West. The next day Chen and his wife, Yuan Weijing, were “beaten senseless” in retaliation for the release of the video. They were denied medical treatment. Women’s Rights Without Frontiers calls for the immediate, unconditional release from house arrest of Chen Guangcheng and his family, and for urgent medical treatment. Those in China cannot criticize the One Child Policy without putting themselves and their families at risk. [Note: To sign a petition to Free Chen Guangcheng, click here: http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/.]
The Universal Declaration of Human Dignity states that the origin of human rights lies in the fact that human beings are created by God in His image and likeness. “So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Gen. 1:27. Because these rights come from God, they are inalienable – they cannot be taken away without besmirching the Creator Himself. And yet, under China’s One Child Policy, the female – who equally bears the image and likeness of God – is brutalized, torn and violated, treated as less than human.
China has not “relaxed” its One Child Policy. The Chinese Communist Party would have the world believe that the coercive enforcement of its Child Policy is a thing of the past. This is not true. As recently as September 27, 2010, China announced that the Chinese Communist Party has no plans to change the One-Child Policy for at least another ten years.
The Chinese Communist Party points out that they have created an exception – couples who are both only children can now have two children. As recently as March 18 of 2011, The Lancet journal reported that in the plenary sessions of the National People’s Conference and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, it was proposed that couples in which only one member is an only child may be able to have a second child. Also, certain other exceptions have long existed. In the countryside, couples whose first child is a girl are often allowed to have a second child in the attempt to have a boy. Further, certain ethic minorities are allowed to have more than one child. In addition, the wealthy can circumvent the policy by moving to Hong Kong for the birth of their second child, or by paying exorbitant fines – which can range from one half to ten times their annual disposable income. This option, of course, is not available for the vast majority of people in China, most of whom still live in the countryside. It can also create resentment among those who cannot afford to buy their way out of the policy. In addition, penalties for non-compliance may include the detaining of family members and the destruction of property, including the demolition of homes.
In my view, these exceptions do not constitute a “relaxation” of the policy. Rather, they are a mere tweaking around the edges. The problem with the one-child policy lies not in the number of children allowed. The problem lies with the coercive enforcement of the birth limit, whatever that limit might be. Whether a couple is allowed to have one child or two children, it is a human rights atrocity to drag a woman out of her home in the middle of the night, screaming and pleading, to forcibly abort her pregnancy, even in the ninth month -- and under certain circumstances, to sterilize her -- because she does not possess a government-issued birth permit.
Crime Against Humanity. In China, a woman’s body is not her own. It belongs to the state. A woman’s womb is the most intimate part of her body – physically, emotionally and spiritually. For the Chinese Communist Party to force its bloody hand right into a woman’s womb and crush the life inside her is a heinous crime against humanity. It must be stopped. [Note: To sign a petition to stop forced abortion in China, click here: http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=sign_our_petition.]
In my opinion, forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide as practiced by the CCP constitute "crimes against humanity," because they are widespread human rights atrocities perpetrated, or at least tolerated, by the regime against a civilian population.
The late Pope John Paul II once said, "A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members, and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying." The Universal Declaration of Human Dignity rightly affirms that human rights are inherent because we are made in the image and likeness of God. These rights are not within the authority of the State to give or take away. There is no more intimate part of a woman’s body than her womb. For the Chinese Communist Party to function as “womb police,” wielding the very power of life and death, is a violation of a woman’s innermost being – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Men also are deeply affected by this violence and loss of control, as are children. For China to enter its destiny as a nation, the Chinese Communist Party must turn from this most abhorrent of human rights atrocities and instead embrace the weakest and most vulnerable members of its society.