Many women in the United States and other parts of the world are commemorating International Women’s Day by striking under the hashtag battle cry #ADayWithoutAWoman. The organizers declared that during the strike, arguably replete with problems, “women and our allies will act together creatively to withdraw from the corporations that harm us and find ways to support the businesses, organizations and communities that sustain us.”
But while elitist feminists took a day off work (even forcing some schools to shut down), Yue Zhang, a Chinese immigrant and victim of forced abortion, participated on a panel at the Heritage Foundation about the gross human rights violations intertwined with China’s family planning policy.
“Today I understand that the victim must be grave enough to share the truth,” Zhang began Wednesday afternoon.
In August 2013, she found she was pregnant. Her initial reaction of surprise and happiness was quickly followed by worry. Zhang, 28 at the time, was not married. In China, giving birth out of wedlock is illegal. “I was worried for the future of my child,” she said.
If a woman does give birth out of wedlock, her child will not receive registration, or hukou —meaning they can never attend school, receive healthcare or even be officially married. “They are illegal persons for their entire lives in China,” Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and a fellow panelist, explained.
Nevertheless, Zhang wanted her child. But five months into her pregnancy, she found government officials waiting outside her home. They’d discovered she was pregnant, and informed her that she would need to have an abortion or pay a social maintenance fee. The next month they returned, this time breaking into Zhang’s house. Again, family planning officers told Zhang that she would have to have an abortion or pay a fee. They also threatened to call her bank, have her house confiscated and tell her employer to fire her.
Zhang inquired about the family planning policy and social maintenance policy of her province. “I learned that with my annual income and in order for my child to get hukou, I needed to pay over $60,000 U.S. dollars of social maintenance fee, a penalty I simply couldn’t afford,” she said. “But I never wanted to give up [my child’s] innocent little life.”
To the Chinese government, what Zhang wanted didn’t matter. For a third time, government officials came to Zhang’s home, pulling her into a vehicle outside. At the hospital she was placed on an operation table. “I kept shouting and struggling,” Zhang said. The doctor administered an injection into her abdomen.
“After a few hours of stomach pain, I started to see blood,” Zhang, struggling through visibly painful emotion, recalled before the panel. Hours later she gave birth to her lifeless baby.
“I dared not open my eyes to see the child. … I cried when the doctor and the nurse took away the little life. I wanted to beg them to leave this with me, but I couldn’t speak. After a while the doctor gave me another shot saying it was to stop the pain, but the pain did not stop. … Lying on that bed, I felt my body was cut open and broken.”
Zhang’s pain continued long after the abortion as she experienced nightmares, hallucinations and feelings of guilt. “Sometimes I believed it was my fault,” Zhang confessed. “I hated myself for getting pregnant without getting married and causing my child to die.”
The Continued Abuse and Extermination of Chinese Women
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ 4th District) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Congressional Executive Commission on China. Even though in 2016, China adopted a two-child policy to replace their one-child policy, Smith said nothing has changed.
“There has been no change in the basic structure of coercive population control in China,” he said, pointing out that women’s menstrual cycles are still monitored, and that women are required to get regular ultrasounds to ensure that they are not pregnant without permission.
“When a woman is so maltreated by her own government … that has psychological impacts on her that are lifelong,” Smith said, noting that between 25 and 40 percent more women than men kill themselves in China. “The cruelty is just unimaginable.”
Olivia Enos, a research associated at Heritage, said during the panel that China’s child limitation and anti-female policies are leading to a future shortage of workers in the labor force and an increasingly older society. “On average China has 114 boys for every 100 girls,” Enos said, adding that in some provinces, as many as 126 boys are born for every 100 girls.
As Smith pointed out, it’s estimated that by 2020, 40 million men will be unable to find wives “because they have been exterminated” through sex-selective abortion.
So why does China continue to maintain child limitation policies? Littlejohn suggested that “terror is the purpose of the policy. … I believe this is social control masquerading as population control.”
What the United States Should Do
Even though “it’s easy to think that there’s nothing more that can be done,” Enos said, the U.S. government could do three things to help end China’s child limitation policies and human rights violations.
The first thing, Enos said, is to create working groups in China to work with Chinese officials to roll back and eventually eliminate the coercive family planning policies. Secondly, Enos said the new presidential administration should engage on human rights issues in any forum possible. Third, the U.S. should stop sending contributions to UNFPA — the United Nations Population Fund.
Federal taxpayer contributions to UNFPA have funded coercive family planning in China, Enos said. Smith added that rather than condemning human rights violation in China, the UNFPA actively encourages other nations to adopt child limitation policies. “When you whitewash crimes against humanity, you become complicit,” he said.
The Rest of Zhang’s Story
With her mother’s help, Zhang came to the United States at the end of 2014.
“As a stranger in this country, I feel the culture of open society. I feel the air of freedom, democracy and human rights,” she said.
One day during a class at a language school in the U.S., a classmate asked Zhang whether it was true that China enforced child limitation policies. When Zhang explained the policy to them and witnessed their indignation, she realized she was blameless for what happened in that hospital.
“It was at that time I realized it was not my fault,” she said. “In fact, my children always had the rights to come into this world. On the contrary, it was the Chinese government’s fault. China’s family planning policy prosecuted me and violated my legal rights. It is the government that represents Chinese Communist party that should feel ashamed.”
Watch the entire panel discussion below.
(For more from the author of “While Women ‘Strike,’ Victim of Chinese Forced Abortion Shares Her Story” please click HERE)