China is softening the slogans for its One Child Policy, but most couples still aren't allowed to choose to have …In the United States, many people equate being "pro choice" with being "pro abortion" and think that reproductive rights are mostly about a woman's desire to avoid having kids. But in the China, being "pro choice" means almost the opposite -- it's has to do with allowing people to choose to have children. And now, as if to acknowledge this difference, the Chinese government has decided to change the way its promotes its long-standing One Child Policy.
The policy was put in place in 1979; since then, there have been 250 million fewer births in China. That, coupled with a preference for male offspring, has created a modern marriage crisis: A 2010 study by the Chinese Academy of Social Science found that more than 24 million Chinese males of marrying age are likely to be unable to find themselves a bride, an imbalance attributed to the One Child Policy and sex-selective abortions.
The new campaign is known as the "face-washing project," the Chinese communist party newspaper, The People's Daily, reported on Monday. It seeks to replace blunt, threatening slogans with ones that are less offensive.
Some of the more extreme slogans, all targeting women, include:
- "If you don't get receive the tubal ligation surgery by the deadline, your house will be demolished!"
- "Kill all your family if you don't follow the rule!"
- "We would rather scrape your womb than allow you to have a second child!"
- "Once you get captured, an immediate tubal ligation will be done; Should you escape, we'll hunt you down; If you attempt a suicide, we'll offer you either the rope or a bottle of poison."
If the propaganda seems harsh, enforcement was even worse.
"Their methods included giving women forced abortions up to even the ninth month of pregnancy, and smothering newborns and dumping them in the trash," Marie Claire magazine reported in 2010. "Female workers were required to prove they were menstruating by showing supervisors a soiled sanitary napkin every month."
In April 2010, an "Iron Fist Campaign" launched by local family planning departments targeted women in Southern China who had more than one child, seizing and imprisoning relatives, some of them children, until the women presented themselves at government clinics for "remedial surgery," or mandatory sterilization.
"My husband said we had broken the law by having two children. The authorities were imprisoning his brother until we were punished," Wei Laojin, 35, told Marie Claire at the time. "The officials said there was only one way to get my brother-in-law released: I had to undergo forced sterilization."
Though the Chinese government occasionally allows a family to keep their second-born children if the child is a boy, the younger child is often not allowed to be registered, which means that the child is denied access to health care and education services. The family is usually fined anywhere from a third to six times their annual income. In the last two years, some families in areas where the birth rate has fallen too far have been allowed to have two children and, under the new policy, if two only-children marry, they are allowed to have a second child.
Even so, government officials say that the One Child policy will not be eliminated.
"Overpopulation remains one of the major challenges to social and economic development," Li Bin, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, told China's Xinhua news agency.
Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.
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