Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Combating forced abortion and gendercide in China

By Mary C. Tillotson

Reggie Littlejohn, Women's Rights Without Frontiers
Today is the 33rd anniversary of China's one-child policy, which has been devastating for Chinese women and girls. I just got off the phone with Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, an organization dedicated to stopping forced abortions and gendercide in China. Reggie has testified with governments around the world, and her organization is running the Save a Girl Campaign, helping families on the grassroots level.

I'm going to let Reggie take it from here.

Tell me about the one-child policy in China.

Reggie: Some in the Chinese Communist Party want you to believe it's entirely voluntary. That is not true. Women are forcibly aborted up to the ninth month of pregnancy, and also forcibly sterilized. Some of these forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die with their full-term babies.

The coercion gives rise to gendercide. Because of the coercive low birth limit, most families want to make sure they have a boy. Sex selective abortion is practiced, and up to 200 million women are missing in the world today due to sex-selective abortion. There are 37 million more men than women living in China.

What that gender imbalance is doing is it's driving human trafficking and sexual slavery, not only in China but in the surrounding countries as well.

Why do they have a preference for boys?

Reggie: Preference for boys is something that's centuries or possibly millennia old. It's prominent in Asia, but especially in China and India.

In both Indian culture and Chinese culture, when a couple gets married, the girl goes over to the boy's family, and the young woman and young man together support the young man's parents in their old age. If you give birth to a son, you know that when he marries, you will be gaining a daughter-in-law, so you're getting an addition to your family, whereas if you give birth to a daughter, you're not getting a son-in-law, you're losing your daughter also.

If you can only have one kid and it's a girl, you don't have anybody to support you in your old age. [Parents often have to choose between] sex-selective abortion or facing poverty in old age.

What is Women's Rights Without Frontiers doing about it?

Reggie met Pope Francis last week.
Reggie: We are doing two things. Number one, we've been called the leading voice in the world to expose and oppose forced abortions in China - forced abortion, gendercide, and sexual slavery in China. We gather documentation and go around and sound the alarm all over the world about what's going on in China.

Most people understand China has a one-child policy. They don't understand the brutality of the way it's enforced.

We gather documentation from China about forced abortion, forced sterilization, human trafficking, murder, all these things that are committed in connection with the one-child policy, and we testify.

We have credibility and a voice in informing government bodies about the truth about what's going on in China, concerning the one-child policy.

Reggie has testified six times at the United States Congress and three times at the European Parliament; she's also testified to the British, Irish, and Canadian Parliaments. She's briefed White House officials, the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, and the Vatican. She's also spoken multiple times at the United Nations Commission on the Status of women, an annual convention in New York; the commission made a statement condemning forced abortion, forced sterilization, and forced contraception.

The other thing we do, we have a Save a Girl campaign.

Tell me about the Save a Girl Campaign.

Reggie: We've got workers on the ground in China who identify women who are pregnant with girls who are planning to have an abortion, or who have just given birth to a girl and are planning to abandon her. They say, 'Please don't abort or abandon your baby because she's a girl. We'll give you a monthly stipend for a year to help support this girl.'

I understand, from my network, we have a 95 percent success rate. We're saving lives in China.

We also help women who are fleeing forced abortion. We are stopping gendercide in China one baby girl at a time.

The Save a Girl Campaign was launched last year on October 11, the International Day of the Girl Child.

What can regular people do to help?

Reggie: If people want to do something to help these girls, we have petitions to stop forced abortion, and they can also donate toward the Save a Girl Campaign. It's amazing how little it takes to save a life in China.

So much of our effort has to do with getting the word out, and people help get the word out by liking the article you write, posting it on Facebook, tweeting it - that's huge for us. It's the only way we can turn political opinion to understand what's going on and oppose the violence against women.

People are listening to us, listening to our message.

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