Is China about to end the greatest biological atrocity on the globe?
11 September 2018
It's impossible to quantify the harm done by forced abortion and sterilisation to women in China.
A barbaric social experiment
Speculation has been growing in recent weeks that China may soon scrap its notorious birth control policy, which has been responsible for millions of forced abortions and sterilisations.
The "one-child" policy, as it was popularly known, was lifted in 2016, but couples are still mostly limited to two children, and unmarried women are subject to huge fines for having "illegal children". A BBC investigation found that the "brutal machinery of enforcement is still in place along with the Chinese state's insistence on the right of control over women's wombs."
Finally acknowledging the consequences?
Now, it seems that the appalling consequences of the repressive policy, such as an ageing population, a shrinking workforce and a chronic gender imbalance are forcing the Chinese Government to consider scrapping any limits on family size.
A few weeks ago, a Chinese newspaper quoted a new draft civil code that has no reference to family planning, and it has emerged today that three family planning offices have been closed. Speculation was also fuelled earlier this month when the government released stamps to mark the year of the pig, featuring a boar and a sow with three piglets.
The Chinese Government has so far denied that it has any imminent plans to scrap the policy.
Unparalleled abuse of women
SPUC's Fiorella Nash has devoted a whole chapter to the atrocities committed in the name of China's birth control policies in her new book, The Abolition of Woman. She summarises their impact saying: "Since 1979, women have been forced or coerced into undergoing sterilisation and abortion, threatened along with their families with financial ruin, loss of employment, imprisonment, torture and the destruction of their homes if they commit the crime of bringing 'unauthorised' children into the world."
She says it is "impossible to quantify" the harm done to the thousands of women who have been victims of forced abortion, and "it cannot be considered entirely coincidental that China is the only country in the world where more women than men commit suicide every year, accounting for over half of female suicides in the world."
Fiorella Nash also explores how China's brutal birth control policy has contributed to the country having one of the worst gender imbalances in the world; sex-selective abortion has led to a situation where it is estimated that by 2020 there will be 55 million excess males.
Whether China is really scrapping its birth control policy should soon be made clear, but whether the country can ever recover from the untold damage it has inflicted remains to be seen.
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