Photo credit: TOP - Reuters. "A woman holds her child at a refugee camp for Rohingya outside Sittwe on October 31, 2012. "
RIGHT - Larry Downing, Reuters. "U.S. President Barack Obama with Myanmar's President Thein Sein in Washington on May 20, 2013."
A senior government official in Myanmar expressed support on Tuesday for a Two-Child Policy for the Muslim Rohingya minority. First implemented in 2005, the policy aims to control the Muslim population in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
"This will benefit the [Rohingya] women,” said Khin Yi, Myanmar’s Minister of Immigration and Population, in an interview with Reuters. “Almost all of the [Rohingya] women are very poor, uneducated. It is not easy to take care of the children. The Two-Child Policy or Three-Child Policy is enough for these people.”
Under the Two-Child Policy, Rohingya mothers can spend six months in prison for giving birth to a third child. The policy also prevents Rohingya mothers from registering third children for government IDs, which allow Myanmar residents to attend school, travel and marry.
Human rights advocates around the world, including Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, have condemned the policy. Suu Kyi, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and hopes to become president of Myanmar, said, “If true, [the Two-Child Policy] is against the law. It is discriminatory and also violates human rights.’’
Despite recent buzz over Myanmar’s Two-Child Policy, government-enforced family planning is not new: China has brutally enforced its One-Child Policy since 1980 with disastrous results. Myanmar’s Two-Child Policy should be a wake-up call for human rights and women’s rights advocates to the horrors of any government-imposed family planning. Yet those who condemn Myanmar’s Two-Child Policy remain silent about similar conditions in China.
On May 20, President Obama met with Myanmar President Thein Sein, expressing America’s "deep concerns about the communal violence directed at Muslim communities inside Myanmar. The displacement of people, the violence towards them needs to stop.” But in his June 8 talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Obama made no mention of the gross human rights violations caused by the One-Child Policy.
Likewise, the United Nations has condemned Myanmar while turning a blind eye toward China. One U.N. expert said: “[Myanmar’s Two-Child Policy] is a clear-cut human rights violation targeting a particular ethnic and religious group. The Central Government must provide an unequivocal response.” Yet the U.N. has remained silent about forced abortions and sterilizations occurring under China’s One-Child Policy.
The long-term results of China’s One-Child Policy show what is in store for the Rohingya people if Myanmar’s family planning regulations remain in effect. Child trafficking, oppression of women and gendercide have plagued China for decades. At least 70,000 children are stolen and trafficked each year in China. In 2010, China’s sex ratio at birth was reported to be 118 boys to 100 girls. Five hundred women in China commit suicide each day. And most recently, the Chinese city of Huizhou began a campaign to force women with two children to undergo tubal ligation surgery.
While these coercive family planning policies must end, the heart of the problem is not misguided policy but the cheapening of human life. Brutal population control reduces human beings to mere statistics, leading to a host of social problems. No government can treat its citizens justly without first recognizing their worth. Both Myanmar and China must realize that God created each person in His image with unique, intrinsic value.
Brian Lee, Executive Director of All Girls Allowed, said, “The governments of Myanmar and China must end these policies. Both are discriminatory and violate basic human rights. At All Girls Allowed, we pray that world leaders would be consistent in condemning all forms of coercive family planning.”
Human rights advocates and government leaders must speak out before Myanmar’s Two-Child Policy becomes ingrained as deeply as China’s One-Child Policy. Coercive family planning measures, whether intended for religious persecution or government control, are atrocities. So are all policies around the world that treat human life as anything less than a precious gift from God.
All Girls Allowed (http://www.allgirlsallowed.org) was founded by Chai Ling in 2010 with a mission to display the love of Jesus by restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China and to reveal the injustice of the One-Child Policy.