For a number of years efforts have been ongoing to press organizations that champion human rights to speak-out against China’s coercive population control program, which violates a number of basic rights while denying women reproductive freedom. Despite the well documented accounts of arbitary arrests, financial penalties. loss of employment or housing, and harrowing reports of forced sterilizations and forced abortions, our appeals for action have been largely met with evasion. Particularly from women’s NGO’s and the United Nations Commission On The Status Of Women, which shall again meet in New York in a couple of months, no doubt maintaining its appalling silence on this major violation of women’s human rights.
To say that this issue has received scant attention from those dedicated to reporting and campaigning upon human rights would be something of an understatement, organizations with significant resources, political influence and staffed by extremely able researchers and experienced activists have been strangely muted on the subject. This has been a huge disappointment that detracts from the excellent work such bodies are engaged in, yet their reluctance to give prominence to abuses resulting from China’s population policies invites justified concern and critique.
We have asked questions of Amnesty International, and while it has featured one or two reports on the subject generally China’s forced sterilizations are mostly absent from Amnesty’s websites, and under-reported across the organization’s many campaigns. Another prominent institution which has appeared on the radar is Human Rights Watch, of which we have been particularly concerned, due to the virtual zero coverage given by this eminent defender of individual freedoms. If you visit their main website and enter in the search box ‘forced sterilizations in China’ (or a variation of that term) the results are depressing, can it be that HRW is unaware
that women across China, and occupied lands such as Tibet, East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia and Manchuria are subject to forced sterilizations? Does it regard reports of such abuses a fiction or of insufficient concern to bother featuring such on its site?
Well thankfully we may be witnessing some sorely needed indication that Human Rights Watch is finally waking up to the reality that women’s human rights in China are being violently denied and abused by China’s population control program. Its latest World Report includes the following:
“Women’s reproductive rights and access to reproductive health remain severely curtailed under China’s population planning regulations. While the government announced in November that Chinese couples will now be allowed two children if either parent was a single child, the measure does not change the foundations of China’s government-enforced family planning policy, which includes the use of legal and other coercive measures—such as administrative sanctions, fines, and coercive measures, including forced abortion—to control reproductive choices.” (Page 326 World Report 2013 Human Rights Watch)
This is very welcome progress from an organization that previously was disappointingly silent on this clear case of human rights abuse, we applaud Human Rights Watch for taking this first step and appreciate sincerely its decision to mention this issue in a report that has a vitally important role in exposing and challenging human rights violations. It is our hope that this inclusion signals a positive change and reflects a commitment to now report upon in more detail and give greater prominence to covering the injustice, suffering and abuse of human rights that China’s coercive population control policies inflict upon women and men.
So we are asking Mr Kenneth Roth Executive Director, of Human Rights Watch to step up and take this issue further by adding his organization’s considerable authority and influence to efforts to oppose these atrocities. Ken may be contacted on Twitter @KenRoth