Finally some good news to report in terms of human rights this week. China has announced it will be taking at least one step out of people's bedrooms and tweaking its long criticized one-child policy. More parents may actually get to have two kids! Changes aren't as good as abandoning the restrictive policy altogether, but from the sounds of the policy changes on the table, at the very least, there could be a major reduction in the types of atrocities women are subjected to in that country.
As the rule stands, most Chinese parents are restricted to having just one child, with some exceptions for rural peasants whose first child is a girl or couples who are both ethnic minorities.
Unfortunately, life doesn't play by the rules, even a restrictive rule put in place by a totalitarian government. As anyone who has ever had an "oops" pregnancy knows, babies happen. They're not always planned, and only a fool would think that a law can change that!
The result of the bizarre policy has been stories like that of 25-year-old Feng Jianmei, a mother of a young daughter who got pregnant and was given two choices by the Chinese government: pay a fee that was the equivalent of four years of her husband's salary or abort her baby. At seven months pregnant, this poor woman was abducted and given an injection that killed her fetus.
Sadly, Jianmei's story isn't a one-off. In addition to forced abortions, women deal with infanticide and involuntary sterilizations in China, all because of this ridiculous rule that dates back to a plan concocted by the Community Party in 1980 to curb runaway population growth.
In a way, it has worked. Today, Chinese families average 1.6 children, while 2.1 is what experts say is necessary to avoid a shrinking population. But it's left the country with an uneven gender ratio (males still get preference to females), an aging workforce, and, of course, miserable people. Not to mention an atrocious record in terms of human rights violations.
Call me misguided if you will, but I think the latter is a much bigger concern than overpopulation at this stage of the game. No matter the size of your population, you want it to be full of people who are taken care of, not abused!
If it's put into place, the new rule will allow couples to have two kids if at least one parent of the couple is an only child (no, they don't get to have three if both are onlies ... bummer). Considering most Chinese folks are onlies, this could change things for a LOT of people.
It still doesn't address the issue of oops pregnancies beyond baby number two. Nor does it address the fact that a government really does not belong sticking its nose in a couple's bedroom to begin with.
But any women saved from the horrors of forced abortions and sterilizations, any children saved from infanticide, are wins.
Do you think China is going far enough with the change?
Image via boujiandnounna/Flickr