A 42-year-old man and father of four has claimed that he was forcibly sterilized at the hands of local family planning authorities in Yunnan province in southwest China.
The victim, a Mr. Hu, says that he was detained by family planning officials on the evening of February 8th while he was visiting a friend’s house for the Chinese New Year. According to Hu, several family planning officials arrived at the scene in plain clothes telling him that he was required to go with them to the town government office.
Since the early 1980’s, China’s one-child policy had made it illegal for most couples to have more than one child. Couples who exceeded their government mandated birth quota where penalized with steep fines equal to two to ten times their annual income. In 2016, the China Government changed the one-child policy to a two-child policy. Couples are now allowed to have a second child but are still prohibited from having a third.
Married at the age of 19, Hu had three children with his first wife. After the couple’s third child, Hu’s wife was sterilized and the couple paid the compulsory fine. Hu later divorced and remarried and had a fourth child with his second wife.
According to Hu, despite having had only one child with his second wife, family planning officials insisted that he was in violation of the two-child policy and would therefore need to be sterilized.
Refusing to comply with officials’ demands, Hu argued that he had already paid a fine for his third child and had committed no wrong. Hu further argued that the Yunnan family planning officials had no authority over him as he was no longer registered in that province but was now registered instead in Sichuan province where he and his family have been living for the past few years.
Ten population control workers surrounded me while the local Communist Party Secretary Lo and the worker wearing glasses grabbed me by the collar. Then they began to beat me and pushed me around. A fist hit me in the face, and my neck was clawed and scratched. They forced me to sit on a stool and took pictures. Then one of the workers shouted, “immediately notify the [clinic] that we are bringing in someone by force to be sterilized.”
After Hu’s wife attempted to intervene, police arrived at the scene. According to Hu, police told him to cooperate with the family planning officials and then proceeded to detain his wife and child. Police allegedly threatened Hu with imprisonment if he continued to resist sterilization.
“If I had not agreed they would have put my wife and I in jail for 15 days on the grounds of disorderly conduct against a government agency, then they would have sterilized me anyway,” according to Hu’s account on Weibo, “when I went to the local police station this is what they threatened me with.”
After being subjected to pressure by police, Hu was subsequently vasectomized at 1 am on the morning of February 9th and then released.
“My little son was only two years old,” Hu explained in the post:
Besides, the weather at this time of year was very cold. I was afraid for my wife and my two-year-old’s safety and well-being. I was very angry that I was being subjected to this terroristic pressure. But because of concern for my wife and children I was forced to agree to their demands that I undergo this operation.
According to the South China Morning Post , the Yunnan province Health and Family Planning Commission has asked the local family planning division office to investigate the incident.
According to Sixth Tone , official documents purportedly obtained by the media outlet reveal that Hu’s visit to his hometown over the holiday provided the chance for family planning officials to “seize the opportunity,” and that Hu voluntarily accepted vasectomy after being given a “thorough and detailed” explanation of the family planning law.
Under China’s planned birth policies, sterilization is often compulsory for women who exceed their government-mandated birth limit. Earlier PRI investigations in China revealed a widespread practice of forced sterilization under the one-child policy. One such woman encountered by PRI investigators was even compelled to submit to sterilization twice after she became pregnant after being sterilized for the first time.
In 2013, a 42-year-old woman from Hubei province bled to death after she was forcibly sterilized following the birth of her second child. Family planning officials compelled her to undergo the operation even after her doctor warned her that she should not undergo surgical sterilization due to possible health risks.