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[A Reference to HRIC Olympic Resources]
[The Issues]
[The Individuals]
[Shi Tao] [Chen Guangcheng]
[Mao Hengfeng] [Hada]
[Yao Fuxin] [Hu Shigen]
[Tenzin Delek Rinpoche] [Shuang Shuying]
[Yang Maodong] [Huang Jinqiu]
[Li Chang] [Nurmemet Yasin]

In this section:

The Olympics, Women's Rights
and Human Dignity


The Olympic Charter declares that sport is an instrument for the implementation of gender equality and the preservation of human dignity.[1]

In its Combined 5th and 6th Periodic Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women the Chinese government also stated that "gender equality and the advancement of women" is closely tied to the development of society as a whole. During the rapid macroeconomic development over the past quarter century, however, Chinese women have not made economic or social gains on the same level or at the same pace as men. Due to cutbacks in state services, and as the economic and social services divide between urban and rural areas grows, rural, migrant, and ethnic minority women and girls have borne the brunt of these inequitable policies, and do not enjoy equal access to affordable education, healthcare, or safe and fairly-compensated employment opportunities.[2]

Women's Right to Health

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which China has ratified, makes it clear that gender equality and women's rights to healthcare services, including those related to family planning and maternity, are inseparable.
The persecution faced by Mao Hengfeng … are examples of how China's family planning policy is poorly implemented and fraught with abuse.


Reproductive Rights

The 1994 Cairo Programme of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population & Development has been endorsed by more than 180 participating countries, including China, confirmed that women and their spouses, on an equal basis, have rights to make free and responsible decisions on whether or not to have children, how many, and the spacing and timing of pregnancies through the provision of education and access to reproductive healthcare. Their decisions must be free of discrimination, coercion, and violence.

Coercion in family planning policies has been explicitly prohibited by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which reviews the implementation of CEDAW in China and throughout the world. In General Recommendation No. 19 covering violence against women, the Committee states that "[c]ompulsory sterilization or abortion adversely affects women's physical and mental health, and infringes the right of women to decide on the number and spacing of their children."

However, the persecution faced by Mao Hengfeng after she violated the so-called "one-child" policy, and the imprisonment of human rights defender Chen Guangcheng after he exposed forced abortions in Shandong Province,[3] are examples of how China's family planning policy is poorly implemented and fraught with abuse.


China's Family Planning Policy

China first implemented family planning policies in the 1970s. In 1979, it instituted the so-called "one-child" policy, which set birth quotas for couples to one child with some variations. The Law on Population and Family Planning (Chinese), promulgated in 2001 and effective on September 1, 2002,[4] codified this policy. Director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) Zhang Weiqing has argued however that China's family planning is not a "one-child policy," stating that less than 40 percent of the population is restricted by the family planning policy to having one child.[5]
Reportedly a third of China's 150,000 employees working in frontline family planning services … do not have the necessary medical qualifications.
Poor Implementation and Abuse of the Policy

While Article 18 of the Law on Population and Family Planning states that one child per couple policy is merely "encouraged,"[6] abusive or coercive enforcement measures, including cases of forced abortions, compulsory sterilizations, and the forced implantation of intrauterine devices after abortions or births, continue to be documented.[7] According to a 2007 news report, Fujian authorities detained family members, both immediate and extended, of blacklisted women to force these women to undergo abortion and sterilization.[8] In addition, women's right to health is at risk, as reportedly a third of China's 150,000 employees working in frontline family planning services on the mainland do not have the necessary medical qualifications and the clinics are often substandard or have outdated equipment.[9]

Local authorities are often left with the power to decide how and when to collect social maintenance fees and implement other penalties available in the policy.[10] According to media reports, officials have confiscated crops, rice cookers, and windows and doors when monetary fees were not available.[11] Additionally, there have been allegations that local officials overcharge or repeatedly charge violators.[12] In one case, a Zhejiang village secretary allegedly threatened a woman with heavy fines, so she sent her second child to an orphanage. The village secretary then sold the child to a family in Anhui.[13] The abusive and arbitrary fines resulted in a massive riot in Guangxi Province in May 2007.[14] A Guangxi official confessed after the riot that the one-child policy had been implemented inconsistently.[15]

By denying Chinese women their reproductive rights and reproductive health, specifically their right to make free and responsible decisions with their partners on the number and spacing of children, China is not meeting its obligations under CEDAW and other human rights documents.
The full impact of the family planning policy as implemented is difficult to assess due to the state secrets classification of relevant information.


Natural Sex Ratio Skewed

China is experiencing a growing sex-ratio disparity as a result of restrictive implementation of the family planning policy and a prevalent cultural preference for male children. The PRC's third national census in 1981 revealed a ratio of newborn boys to girls of 108.47 to 100; in 1989 it was 111.92 to 100; in 2000 it was 117 to 100.[16] And in 2005, the ratio of boys and girls aged below four became 122.66 to 100.[17] NPFPC Director Zhang Weiqing admits that China's family planning policy "has aggravated the imbalance."[18] The full impact of the family planning policy as implemented is difficult to assess due to the state secrets classification of relevant information, including the number of induced abortions, statistics on infanticide and child abandonment.[19]

Recent laws that the Chinese Government adopted to address the gender disparity have been insufficient in balancing the sex ratio. Both Article 23 of the Measures for Implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Maternal and Infant Health Care (Chinese)[20] and Article 36(2) and (3) of the Law on Population and Family Planning prohibit identifying the gender of a fetus or aborting a pregnancy based on gender by using ultrasound technology or other technologies for those without medical needs. This prohibition, however, has yet to be criminalized, making meaningful enforcement even less likely.[21]
Violators of the policy, those who have unplanned over-quota children, often have to pay ‘social maintenance fees.’

The son-preference culture in China also results in many families' decisions not to officially register their daughter's birth in order to reserve the quota for their sons under the family planning policy. Unregistered female children remain in a state of limbo, with very limited access to education, healthcare, social services and other benefits.[22] The CEDAW Committee, in its 36th session in 2006, encouraged the Chinese government to continue to strengthen efforts to ensure that all girls are registered at birth.[23]


Influence of Economic Disparity

Violators of the policy, those who have unplanned over-quota children, often have to pay "social maintenance fees."[24] The fees can be devastating to those families in poverty and only minor inconveniences to those who have benefited from the economic boom and can easily pay the fines. New reports from China have noted increasing fines for violation of the family planning policy and new debates over somehow making fines more equitable across variations in income.[25]

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HRIC's Work on the Issues
//

ENDNOTES

[1] International Olympic Committee, Olympic Charter, effective July 7, 2007, Rule 2, Paragraph 7, http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_122.pdf.

[2] Martin Ravallion and Chen Shaohua, China's (Uneven) Progress Against Poverty, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3408, Washington: World Bank, 2004.

[3] For more information on Chen Guangcheng's case, see http://www.ir2008.org/02/about.php.

[4] Law on Population and Family Planning of the People's Republic of China [中华人民共和国人口与计划生育法], issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress [全国人民代表大会常务委员会], promulgated December 29, 2001, and effective on September 1, 2002, Art. 18, http://www.gov.cn/banshi/2005-08/21/content_25059.htm.

[5] Kristine Kwok, "One-Child Policy Worsens Imbalance: Official", South China Morning Post, January 24, 2007.

[6] Law on Population and Family Planning of the People's Republic of China [中华人民共和国人口与计划生育法], issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress [全国人民代表大会常务委员会], promulgated December 29, 2001, and effective on September 1, 2002, Art. 18, http://www.gov.cn/banshi/2005-08/21/content_25059.htm.

[7] Vivian Wu, "Landmark Hearing for Forced Abortion," South China Morning Post, April 23, 2007; Yan Ming [燕明], "After Forced Abortions Revealed, Guangxi Hospital Secretly Sends Pregnant Women Away, Whereabouts Unknown" [百色强迫妇女堕胎新情况], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], April 20, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2007/04/20/abortion.

[8] "Extended Family Members Detained for One-Child Policy Violations" [一家超生全家收监], Oriental Daily [东方日报], March 11, 2007.

[9] Zhuang Pinghui, "In Brief: 1 in 3 Family Planning Workers Unqualified," South China Morning Post, December 7, 2007.

[10] Measures for Administration of Collection of Social Maintenance Fees [社会抚养费征收管理办法], issued by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, [中华人民共和国国务院], promulgated August 2, 2002, and effective on September 1, 2002, Art. 7, http://www.people.com.cn/GB/shizheng/20020810/796970.html.

[11] John Ruwitch, "China Riots Rooted in Child Policy, Financial Woes," Reuters, June 1, 2007, available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070601/lf_nm/china_child_policy_dc_1;_ylt=AtcNU7yXNrBUcCAthFshXPhPzWQA; Zhang Liming [张丽明], "Food and Electrical Appliances Taken Away from Violators of One Child Policy in Jiangsu" [江苏省连云港再有农民因计划生育政策遭迫害], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], February 15, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2007/02/15/china_rights_birth.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Feng Riyao [冯日遥], "Zhejiang Village Secretary Threatens Couple to Send 2nd Kid to Orphanage, then Sells Him to Family in Anhui" [杭州村书记讹诈超生户并拐卖儿童], Radio Free Asia [自由亚洲电台], May 1, 2007, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2007/05/01/china_rights_rural.

[14] "China Family-Planning Protests Flare Anew," Reuters, May 31, 2007, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PEK95542.htm.

[15] Chen Longjie [陈龙杰], "Guangxi Official Finds One-Child Policy Difficult to Enforce" [广西官员指一胎化难执行], Ming Pao [明报], July 19, 2007, http://www.mingpaonews.com/20070719/cac1.htm.

[16] "Why a Gender Imbalance in Sex Ratios at Birth?" [人口出生性别为何失衡:国家家庭计划矛盾], China Youth Daily [中国青年报], August 31, 2004, http://china.ynet.com/view.jsp?iod=3706162.

[17] National Bureau of Statistics of China, China Population Statistics Yearbook 2006, chart 4-7.

[18] Kristine Kwok, "One-Child Policy Worsens Imbalance: Official", South China Morning Post, January 24, 2007, http://china.scmp.com/chimain/ZZZ6EEJO9XE.html.

[19] "HRIC's Parallel NGO Report to the CEDAW Committee," Human Rights in China, June 2006, http://hrichina.org/public/contents/29593. For more information on state secrets in family planning work, see Human Rights in China, State Secrets: China's legal Labyrinth (New York: Human Rights in China, 2007), 176-7, http://hrichina.org/public/contents/41421.

[20] Measures for Implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Maternal and Infant Health Care [中华人民共和国母婴保健法实施办法], issued by the State Council of the People's Republic of China [中华人民共和国国务院], promulgated and effective on June 20, 2001. Concerning a fetus suspected of carrying a sex-linked genetic disease, the article further states: "if it is necessary to conduct gender identification, such gender identification shall be made by a medical and health care institution designated by the administrative department of public health of the people's government of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central government in accordance with the provisions of the administrative department of public health under the State Council."

[21] Andrew Yeh, "Beijing Split over Abortion Policy," Financial Times, July 11, 2006, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f11c2aa8-1109-11db-9a72-0000779e2340,
_i_rssPage=9c33700c-4c86-11da-89df-0000779e2340.html
.

[22] Cai Yong and William Lavely, "China's Missing Girls: Numerical Estimates and Effects on Population Growth," The China Review 3, No. 2, Fall 2003, 13-29.

[23] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, "Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women: China," C/CHN/CO/6, 36th Session (August 25, 2006), http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw36/cc/CHINA_advance%20unedited.pdf, Para 32.

[24] Law on Population and Family Planning of the People's Republic of China [中华人民共和国人口与计划生育法], issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress [全国人民代表大会常务委员会], promulgated December 29, 2001, and effective on September 1, 2002, Art. 41, http://www.gov.cn/banshi/2005-08/21/content_25059.htm; Measures for Administration of Collection of Social Maintenance Fees [社会抚养费征收管理办法], issued by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, [中华人民共和国国务院], promulgated August 2, 2002, and effective on September 1, 2002, Art. 3, http://www.people.com.cn/GB/shizheng/20020810/796970.html.

[25] The forms of punishment include heavier fines and dismissal (for civil servants, delegates of National People's Congress and CPPCC): Raymond Li: "County Adviser Fined 765,500 Yuan for Having Second Child", South China Morning Post, January 2, 2008; "Central China Province Punishes Hundreds for Violating Family Planning Policy," Xinhuanet, January 7, 2008, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-01/07/content_7377930.htm.

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