The Chinese Ministry of State Security must have been asleep on the job. The email that appeared in my Inbox read: “It is better to be a criminal in China than a pregnant mother.”
Now, I knew that women who get pregnant outside the state plan are often browbeaten or bullied into abortions and sterilizations. But, as my mysterious correspondent noted, there are a whole range of other punishments for violators, who are treated worse than criminals.
First, she said, if you’ve had a child outside the plan, very few people will hire you. Most “work units” (i.e., businesses) require applicants to submit their “Family Planning Certificates” to prove that they have not had an “illegal” child.
Even criminals—burglars, rapists, and the like—are allowed to apply for these jobs after they have been released from prison. But the parent of an “illegal” child without a “Family Planning Certificate” is not even allowed to apply!
Second, even criminals possess a certain human dignity and enjoy certain basic human rights (PRC Constitution, Article 37). They cannot be detained without probable cause, they cannot be tortured or subjected to corporal punishment, and they have the legal right to file suit if their human rights have been violated.
Those who violate the one-child policy are stripped of their dignity as human beings and enjoy no rights. They can be illegally detained for an indefinite period of time by the Family Planning Bureau. They can be forcibly aborted or forcibly sterilized, which is a form of corporal punishment in disguise. And, if they try to take legal action, they will find out that no people’s court at any level will touch cases involving family planning issues.
Third, according to Article 37 of the PRC Constitution, a person suspected of a crime can only be arrested after an arrest warrant is issued by the People’s Procuratorate or the People’s Court, and the arrest can only be carried out by members of the public security bureau. A person suspected of a crime also has the right to hire an attorney to defend her from the charges during the trial. And she will not be charged “room and board” for the time she spends in prison awaiting trial.
But here in XXX City, Zhejiang province, the Family Planning Bureau operates outside the law. It violates civil liberties by arresting and detaining whomever it wants, whenever it wants. Husbands and other family members are locked up on its own authority. Its victims are not allowed to seek legal counsel. They are even forced to pay 20 or 30 Yuan a night for the “privilege” of being incarcerated.
Fourth, the law protects the the unborn child of a criminal, even if that criminal has been sentence to death. The authorities wait until the child has been born before carrying out the sentence.
The unborn child of a woman who becomes pregnant outside the one-child policy has no legal protection. Instead, the baby is sentenced to death. No matter what the reason, those who get pregnant without permission must terminate the pregnancy.
Finally, no matter where a criminal is detained, in a local jail or a state prison, they are permitted to communicate with their family. On the other hand, a pregnant woman and her family members can be held incommunicado for however long the Family Planning Bureau wishes to hold them. And if they are unable to pay the fine for conceiving an illegal child, the child will be aborted or, if born, it will be sold. She will never see her child again in this life.
So you see, it is better to be a criminal in China than a mother pregnant without government permission.
A grieving mother