China to sterilise 10,000 parents over one-child rule
(TIMES ONLINE) Family planning authorities have detained hundreds of people against their will in a campaign to sterilise 10,000 men and women suspected of trying to violate China’s strict birth control policies.
About 1,300 people were being held in cramped and poor conditions in offices throughout the small town of Puning in southern Guangdong Province and are forced to listen to “lectures” on state rules limiting the size of families, the Nanfang Countryside Daily said.
In the years after China launched its strict “one couple, one child” family planning policy in the late 1970s, abuses such as forced later-term abortions, sterilisations and even the killing of newborn babies were widely reported.
But such practices have fallen sharply in recent years as the policy has become quite widely accepted and exceptions have been introduced.
However, officials in Puning launched a 20-day campaign on April 7 since so many couples have left the area in search of factory jobs and have found it easier to have children outside the government-set quotas.
The county intends to sterilise 9,559 women or their husbands who are suspected of planning to have a second or third child. So far about half that number have agreed to comply, the newspaper said.
Officials have detained the elderly parents of those who do not submit voluntarily to the surgery or who try to evade the authorities to force them to comply, the newspaper said. It reported that on April 10 some 100 people, mostly elderly, were seen inside a damp 200 square metre building at a township family planning centre.
The newspaper said: “There were some mats on the floor, but the room was too small for all people to lie down and sleep, so the young ones had to stand or squat. Due to the lack of quilts, many cuddled up to fight the cold.”
Among those being held was the 64-year-old father of Huang Ruifeng, who already has three daughters. Mr Huang said: “Several days ago, a village official called me and asked me or my wife to return for the surgery. Otherwise they would take away my father.”
Rules in Puning, as in most rural areas of China, allow farmers to have a second child if the first is a daughter. After that couples are supposed to stop.
An official at the Puning Population and Family Planning Bureau, who declined to be identified, told the Global Times: “It’s not uncommon for family planning authorities to adopt some tough tactics.”
Family planning officials are appraised on their success in enforcing birth control policies and sometimes employ such extreme methods if they fail to meet state-set targets. Authorities in Puning have already adopted a tough stance against couples who flout the rules.
They and their relatives who apply for permits to build a house are rejected. They are also being denied a local cash bonus. Illegal children are denied residency registration, a penalty that means they are excluded from a place in school.
One official told the newspaper that an investigation would be launched to establish whether authorities in Puning had exceeded their remit. A state-level regulation stipulates that couples who violate the family planning policy must not be punished without proper authorisation.