Thursday, March 5, 2009

China's One Child Policy

I have previously written about China's one child policy but I came across a new angle on it while attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN headquarters in New York. On Tuesday March 3rd I interviewed a young woman who spent 6 years in China working with orphans. For reasons that will become obvious she asked me not to publish her name so I will call her Mary for the purposes of this article. The other names mentioned herein have also been changed for the same reasons.

During her time in China Mary worked with various different groups of orphaned children including those who were in the fullness of their health, children with special needs and terminally ill children. Mary loved this work and would like to return to China some day to continue it.

Mary came face to face with China’s one child policy when a desperate young woman pleaded with one of her colleagues for help because she wanted to keep her baby. Out of this first request for help an effective underground support system developed which has saved the lives of many babies. Mary told me about a young married woman Mrs Zhang who already had one child and when she found she was pregnant again, was under pressure from her in-laws to comply with Chinese law and terminate the baby's life. Having been reported to the population control police by her mother in-law Mrs. Zhang was visited by the police and reluctantly agreed to report to the local hospital the following morning for an abortion. Instead however she fled during the night and went into hiding. Mary and her colleagues assisted Mrs Zhang and her baby boy was born safely. Mrs Zhang's family are now happy that she took the decision she did, but she has not yet gone home nor has the baby’s birth been registered. If and when the birth is registered it will result in huge fines being imposed on the family.

This was not the only time Mary and her colleagues came across China’s infamous one child policy, they soon found themselves, operating a safe house for pregnant women in dire need help. On another occasion when a single girl, Ms Wang became pregnant her family was trying to force her to have an abortion. This girl was beaten by her father and her mother threatened to commit suicide unless she agreed to have an abortion. Ms Wang reluctantly agreed to the abortion and was brought to the abortion clinic under the watchful eye of her mother, she had however, heard of the support system for pregnant women who wanted to keep their babies and when her mother fell asleep she escaped and made her way to the safe house.

These are just two of the many stories that could be told but is sufficient to illustrate the menace felt by women and their families resulting from the coercion of the population controllers and it also illustrates the determination of some courageous women to save their babies lives despite coercion.

At one point in time according to Mary it began to be obvious that something was happening at the safe house and people began to notice that there were considerable numbers of young women arriving there, so it became necessary to move it to another location. Sadly not all those who contacted the support system were able to avail of the help and some went on to have abortions. Most Chinese women Mary met during her six years in China, would have loved to have more children but they reluctantly accepted the status quo. The people have been brainwashed into believing that there are too many people in China and it is their civic duty to limit population.