China’s One-Child Policy has included forced abortion, forced sterilization, heavy fines and intimidation. But what isn’t often mentioned is that if Family Planning Officials fail on these fronts, any children who survive to be born and raised are denied hukou, or household registration. These children are essentially treated as non-citizens of China. Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, wrote in a press release today:
Children without hukou will have no birth certificate, no official existence. They will not be eligible for health care or education. They cannot get a passport or driver’s license. They will not be able officially to marry or work. As far as the Chinese government is concerned, these children do not exist.
Littlejohn notes that despite China’s shift to a “Two-Child Policy,” the practice of hukou will continue. “This denial of hukou is extremely distressing to parents, who may feel that their beloved children have no future,” she writes.
As an example, Littlejohn reports that one man, after his fourth child was denied hukou due to his inability to pay a heavy fine to the Chinese government, “stabbed two Family Planning Officials to death and wounded four others in 2013.” The man was recently executed. Littlejohn says the fines imposed on families “can be up to ten times a person’s annual salary.”
Littlejohn also writes, “In another tragic incident last year, a Chinese father of four committed suicide because his children were denied hukou.” The distress caused by the denial of hukou, she says, “devastates not only women, but also men and children.”
Children who are born without a birth permit “will have no birth certificate, no official existence. They will not be eligible for health care or education. They cannot get a passport or driver’s license. They will not be able officially to marry or work.”
Denying Chinese children their basic human rights through the denial of hukou, says Littlejohn, “is a form of official child abuse. It must end.”
Watch a BBC video from 2014 on the impact of the One-Child Policy and the denial of hukou on children in China.