A woman in China was forced to flee her homeland after being forced into an abortion. She has since been granted refugee status in New Zealand, showing the world that human rights abuses are still taking place in China, despite the supposed loosening of the country’s population control policies.
The woman, who has not been named, originally had her request for refugee status denied, but it has since been approved. She moved to New Zealand with her husband and two children, a 19-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, after losing her third child.
She and her husband were married in 2000, and she had a daughter from an earlier marriage. In 2010, they found out they were pregnant; it was her second child, but her husband’s first. They had to pay for a birth permit, and then pay more fees after he was born to register him with the government. Then, the couple claimed, they were subjected to regular harassment by government officials. For six years, authorities would come to their home, insisting they sign a pledge saying they wouldn’t have more children. When they refused, the officials would threaten and insult them.
The husband was working for a state-run company; there, he likewise was threatened. His income was slashed, he was removed from his duties, and he was detained twice a day at work. Then, in 2015, they found out they were pregnant again.
The realization was not an unhappy one for them; on the contrary, it brought the couple “so much joy.” Yet they were again visited by government officials, who told her she needed to have an abortion. According to the New Zealand government documentation, when she refused, they began insulting her again. “They pushed and prodded the wife and told her she was a pig for wanting so many children,” the document reads. “They told her she needed to have an abortion and told her to sign a document agreeing to this. After she fainted, they left.”
Soon afterwards, the woman began bleeding, so she and her husband went to the hospital. When she told the medical personnel that it was her third child, they didn’t treat her, refusing to even perform an ultrasound or check for a heartbeat, but instead took her directly into an operating room “to remove the remainder” of their baby. “The husband believes that officials directly or indirectly killed their child,” the document reads. “Since the operation, the couple has had difficulty getting pregnant. They experienced no difficulty in this regard previously.”
According to the woman, the abortion she was forced to undergo was committed without anesthesia. The documents state:
The operation was extremely painful. The pain continued afterwards, but she was similarly given no pain medication. She thinks the denial of pain relief may have been because it was her third pregnancy, as it was illegal. Due to the trauma of the event, the wife has trouble remembering what happened, but remembers seeing her baby being sucked out a tube and into a drainage pipe during the operation. She does not know if her baby was alive at the time or had miscarried. As no checks were done to see if her baby was still alive, he/she may have still been. No attempts were made to save her baby.
Since then, the woman said Chinese officials stopped visiting her; she believes it’s because they forcibly sterilized her during the operation, and therefore know she won’t be able to get pregnant again. New Zealand officials agreed that the couple would face persecution if they return to China, and as such, they cannot be deported. However, that protection has not been extended to their children.
Though China claims to have relaxed its notorious One Child Policy, the reality is, not much has changed. Women are still forced into abortions, while tens of millions of girls are missing. It’s long past time for the world to wake up to the horrors families continue to face in China.
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