China is reportedly considering ending its two-child policy, which legally limits the size of Chinese families, by 2019.
The Chinese government has commissioned research on the effects the childbirth restrictions had on the country as well as the potential effects that could result if the two-child policy is lifted, Catholic News Agency reported.
Removing the policy “would be a momentous victory for human rights and a vindication of the application of international pressure as a strategy to affect change within that totalitarian regime,” said Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.
Littlejohn has spent the past decade fighting against forced abortion, gendercide of baby girls and sex slavery in China, according to CNA.
“If China truly does eliminate all birth limits, that would be one of the happiest days in my life and dream come true after so many years of labor,” Littlejohn wrote on Twitter.
If China truly does eliminate all birth limits, that would be one of the happiest days in my life and dream come true after so many years of labor. At the same time, this article… https://t.co/MGZ5vynT5t
— Reggie Littlejohn (@reggielittlejhn) May 22, 2018
Littlejohn told CNA that she is “holding off” on celebrating just yet, however, because while the government has commissioned a study, “it has not yet enacted the new law.”
The human rights workers also voiced concern that pregnant women who are not married will continue to be penalized.
“In some places, an unmarried woman who is pregnant may be forced to pay a ‘social compensation fee’ of up to 10 times her annual salary,” she said. “If she cannot pay the fine, she may be required to abort.”
Human rights activists have documented the abuse endured by pregnant women in China who did not receive permission from the state. In some cases, these women are forcibly removed from their homes and strapped to a table to undergo an involuntary abortion. They are sometimes forcibly sterilized as well.
The Chinese government first enacted the infamous one-child policy in the 1970s, in an effort to limit population growth. Decades later, the country is still dealing with its devastating effects.
The policy was amended in 2013, allowing couples to have a second child if either of the partners was an only child. Then in 2015, the policy was amended to allow all couples to have a second child.
Some researchers are hypothesizing what the effect will be if the policy is lifted altogether.
Huang Wenzheng, a senior researcher at the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, told Bloomberg that the policy change may have little effect on the country’s birthrate because Chinese people in childbearing age have a low desire to have multiple children.
Littlejohn warned that one of the consequences of the two-child policy is the imbalance of gender ratio. Many Chinese couples have resorted to abortion or infanticide upon learning their child is a girl due to the strong preference in male babies, since boys can keep the family name and run the business or farm.
There are an estimated 30 million more men living in China than women.
“Tens of millions of men will never marry because their future wives were selectively eliminated,” Littlejohn said.
Littlejohn also blames the high rate of senior suicide to lack of family support for the aging population — another tragic legacy of the one-child policy.
(H/T: Catholic News Agency)