For Chinese women, no reason to celebrate
WASHINGTON (BP)--Females in China had little reason to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day March 8, a United States congressman and human rights activists said.
Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., and fellow opponents of the communist giant's oppressive, population-control program told reporters Chinese women are suffering in unprecedented fashion under what is known as the one-child policy, which limits the number of children women can have.
"The coercive enforcement of China's one-child policy does more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth and any other official policy in the history of the world," said Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers.
Smith called the coercive program the "most heinous attack on women ever."
"[T]oo few people outside China understand the massive and cruel repression and violence perpetrated, intentionally and systematically, on hundreds of millions of women" by the government, he said.
International Women's Day has celebrated since 1911 what the sponsoring organization describes as the "economic, political and social achievements of women." For more than 30 years, however, Chinese women have lived under a regime marked by forced abortion, coercive sterilization and even infanticide of female babies.
The repercussions are mounting, Smith and Littlejohn said at a Capitol Hill news conference on the eve of International Women's Day, and include:
-- 500 suicides a day by Chinese women, according to the World Health Organization, making China the only country in the world with a higher female suicide rate than that of males.
-- More than 120 male babies for every 100 female babies in a growing gender imbalance that will leave by 2020 as many as 40 million Chinese men unable to find wives "because they have been exterminated," Smith said.
One of the fallouts from the gender imbalance is an increasing sex trafficking problem, the congressman told reporters.
"China is on the cusp of being the haven for sex traffickers," Smith said. "It is a magnet today that will only get worse because of the lack of girls, ... directly attributable to the one-child public policy."
Smith called for an end to the apparent indifference demonstrated by the Obama administration and the United Nations.
He asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a recent congressional hearing if President Obama had raised the issue of forced abortion with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Clinton said she did not know, Smith told reporters.
"That, in and of itself, underscores how this issue has been trivialized," Smith said.
He criticized U.S funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has been found to support China's one-child program. Obama has reinstituted support for UNFPA, providing more than $100 million to the agency the last two years.
China's one-child policy generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities now may have second babies if the husband and wife were only children. It requires all women to have a birth permit before becoming pregnant and monitors the reproductive cycles of women of child-bearing age.
The state actions against women have included forced abortions on women in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy, as well as compulsory sterilizations and infanticide, according to reports. Penalties for violations of the policy also have included fines, arrests and the destruction of homes.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.