Rights group urges end to China's one-child policy

BEIJING, Wednesday 22 December 2010 (AFP) - A leading Chinese rights group has demanded the abolition of Beijing's draconian "one child" population control policy, citing numerous cases of abuse against women as well as uneven implementation.

In a new report entitled "I Don't Have a Choice over My Own Body," the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders detail forced abortions, sterilisations, insertions of intrauterine devices (IUDs) and coerced testing for pregnancy.

"The policy is enforced in ways that encourage the use of violence against women," CHRD's international director Renee Xia said in a statement.

"There is little evidence that local officials are being held accountable for the abuses they perpetrate as they strive to meet (family planning) quotas."

China formally implemented the policy in 1980 to control its population -- currently over 1.3 billion people -- by largely limiting urban couples to one child. Rural families are allowed to have two children if the first is a girl.

"It doesn’t matter if a couple is allowed to have one or two children, the fact is that the government continues to use coercion to dictate not only the number of children a couple may have but also the birth control methods they must use," said Xia.

"The policy, which affects hundreds of millions of Chinese men and women, is a serious violation of Chinese people’s reproductive rights."

According to the report, issued Tuesday, implementation of the policy has been uneven, with some localities offering officials incentives to control births, while other areas become dependent on fines levied for violations.

Forced abortions, many in late-term pregnancies, remain widespread, especially for unmarried women or for couples under the legal marrying age of 22 for men and 20 for women, the report said.

The report cites the case of Liu Dan, who died in February 2009 in Liuyang city in central China's Hunan province while undergoing a forced abortion a week before her due date. Liu was not of legal marrying age, the report said.

Women in some areas have been forced to abort a second son, while others only required to pay a fine, it said.

Both men and women found to have violated the policy have been beaten, detained, or fined. Others have lost their jobs, or been denied household registration permits for their children, CHRD alleged.

"Changes to the policy are long overdue," the group said, calling for its abolition and an end to "all forms of violence and detention" connected with its implementation.

"The family planning policy has distorted China’s demographics so much that there is now a serious imbalance between the two sexes as well as a rapidly aging population."

On Monday, the day before the report was released, the director of Beijing's National Population and Family Commission, Li Bin, said the policy would remain in place and "largely the same" for the next five years, state media reported.

MySinchew 2010.12.22