Married couples in China may now go forth and procreate (again), as the country officially ends its “one-child policy”.
Instituted in the 1970s and strictly enforced using fines and forced abortions, supporters of the policy argue that it is at least partly responsible for China’s economic boom.
Opponents on the other hand claim it has led directly to mass human rights violations as well as a rapidly ageing, gender imbalanced population and a shrinking workforce.
And while the new “two-child policy”, which comes into force on January 1st, goes some way to allowing Chinese people freedom over their families and bodies, critics point out that it is still rife with restrictions and discriminations.
Couples must still officially apply to have a child, both the first and the second, and unmarried women are still prohibited from having children at all.
Chairman Chris Smith of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China stated the new policy won’t necessarily stop authorities “pressuring or even forcing mothers to abort a child if the birth hasn’t been approved by the state and is/or the couple’s third.”
And president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, Reggie Littlejohn, warned that under the new laws, “women who get pregnant without permission will still be dragged out of their homes, strapped down on tables, and forced to abort babies that they want.”
Unfortunately experts assert it is also too little, too late to rectify China’s population problems, and believe that further loosening of reproductive restrictions are unlikely due to entrenched political and bureaucratic interests.