In the 1970s, China’s Communist Party implemented the world’s most notorious population control plan, the one-child policy. It was established with the justification that soaring population growth would endanger food supplies, employment, availability of services and economic development.
In actuality, the mandatory policy has resulted in highly discriminatory governmental action against its citizens, coerced abortions, sterilization, incidents of genocide, a disproportional ratio of women to men and an overwhelming increase in elderly population.
According to Dr. Jonathan Aird, former senior China specialist at the U.S. Bureau of the Census, an estimated 100 million coerced abortions and sterilizations occurred between 1971 and 1985 alone, during the height of the population control period. In a 1992 survey, the bureau revealed the total fertility rate, reaching about 1.65 per woman, dropped below the necessary replacement level gauged at around 2.1 percent. What this translates to is a greater number of elderly citizens who will increase pressure on social security services and demands for healthcare.
The greatest assault of the Chinese population control program is indisputably suffered by the unfortunate women who have given birth to girls. Tibet, a militarily occupied nation since the 1950 Chinese invasion, is home to the most inhuman atrocities. Two Buddhist monks from eastern Tibet gave a report to the U.S. Congress in 1992 in which they described a “mobile birth-control team” that arrived in the village and forced women to undergo abortion or sterilization, executed 30 to 40 operations a day, and moved to the next location.
A former healthcare worker from eastern Tibet, Tashi Dolma, became pregnant for a second time and decided to resist family planning officials.
Consequently, they threatened her relentlessly with extreme financial and political punishment. One doctor warned of a 70 percent decrease in her salary without any chance of an increase, a 1500 Yaun fine (an unreasonable amount of money for most Tibetans), and a governmental rejection for her unborn child’s ration card and school admittance. These incessant pressures made her forfeit her resistance and “volunteer” to terminate her pregnancy.
“The complications and pain I suffered in the course of this operation were so terrible that I can’t talk about it. However, it was nothing compared to what women suffer when they are operated on during their sixth and seventh months of pregnancy,” Dolma said in a 1990 publication of The Tibetan Review.
The release of a British documentary The Dying Rooms by Kate Blewett and Brian Woods in 1995 provided some of the most galvanizing material against the one-child policy and its traditional preference of male heirs. Because boys ensure monetary and other security to their parents, especially into old age, most couples consult the sex determination of an ultrasound and abort the fetus if it is found to be a girl, otherwise abandoning her to an orphanage. The Washington Post recently published a stunning average ratio of 117 boys to 100 girls in China (in some provinces the disparity reaches 140 to 100) in contrast to the worldwide ratio of 105 boys to 100 girls.
The Dying Rooms unveils the supreme neglect which occurs in these facilities, showing scenes of a 2-year-old Mei-ming swaddled in urine blankets, dried mucus sealing her eyes, and an overall deterioration of her shrunken skeleton from malnutrition. She died within four days of the documentation, without any action from the orphanage officials or recording of her existence. Other poignant scenes show a dozen girls bonded by their wrists and legs to bamboo benches with a row of plastic buckets beneath them to catch their excrement. “They had no stimulation, nothing to play with, no one to touch them,” Blewett said.
Since 2001, the Bush administration has halted the annual contribution of usually around $30 million to the United Nations Population Fund under the advisement of critics.
The National Center for Policy Analysis highlights that a reported five to 10 million children have died through neglect in orphanages, and 80 to 90 percent are girls. Additionally, first-hand testimonials heard before the U.S. Senate Committee on Human Rights the same year revealed more evidence of rural women forcibly strapped to steel tables, sometime in their last trimester.
The United Nations, certain proponents in Congress, and organizations like Planned Parenthood strongly oppose the withholding of these funds under the pretense of its live-saving and educational services. Distributing funds to totalitarian regimes such as communist China, however, will never produce the effect of liberating or empowering women. In fact, it will only continue to place them in subservient positions where their child-bearing capacity is deemed a liability and not a gift.
Erin Cusack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.