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Abortion, the UNFPA and the China Syndrome

Abortion, the UNFPA and the China Syndrome

The Founding Charter of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says “couples have the right to decide the number and spacing of their children.” Rarely have words rung so hollow. For more than two decades, UNFPA has been strongly supportive of China’s brutally coercive “one child per family” policy. In a letter last year to Bill Richardson, UNFPA Executive Director Nafis Sadik tacitly admits that China has used and continues to use population control targets, quotas and birth permits, although these practices were banned in the Cairo Program of Action because of the inevitability of abuse.

The occasion for Mrs. Sadik’s admission was the announcement that UNFPA planned to embark on a $20 million four-year initiative in 32 counties of China (among the country’s 2000 counties). The experi-mental approach was described as “client-centered” rather than “administrative.” In the 32 counties, couples will be “allowed to have as many children as they want,” without needing a birth permit and without being subject to quotas.

Lest anyone be fooled by the apparent freedom, Mrs. Sadik adds that couples with more than the “recommended” number of children will still be required to pay a “social compensation fee.” Sometimes such fees have amounted to 50% of the couple’s annual salary.

But the most interesting part of the announcement is surely what one can read between the lines. For couples in the other 2,000 counties, it will be more of the same administrative approach, including forced abortion which, as Congressman Chris Smith has pointed out, “was rightly denounced as a crime against humanity by the Nuremberg Tribunal.”

The National Com…

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… Town who had “extra-plan” births: “Sledge hammers and heavy crowbars in hand, we went to Zhoukeng Town and dismantled their houses. Unable to apprehend the women in the case, we took their mothers … and detained them in the PBO’s detention facility. It was not until a month-and-a-half later that the women surrend-ered themselves and money penalties were imposed.”

Mrs. Gao summed up her experiences: “All of those 14 years, I was a monster in the daytime, injuring others by the Chinese communist authorities’ barbaric planned birth policy, but in the evening, I was like all other women and mothers, enjoying my life with my children. I could not live such a dual life anymore. Here, to all those injured women, to all those children who were killed, I want to repent and say sincerely that I’m sorry! I want to be a real human being.”

The Oppression of Fat People in America

The Oppression of Fat People in America

Fat does not equal lazy; fat does not equal bad; fat does not equal overeating; fat does not equal ugly. Fat oppression is something so prevalent in our society, yet Americans refuse to recognize it as a problem or even an issue. After hearing an amazing woman named Nomy Lamm speak this weekend, I could not longer let this issue be ignored. (Lamm is a fat oppression activist and has been published in Ms. magazine). Fat oppression exists in this society and we all must recognize the damage it does to everyone, especially fat people.

Fat is not a bad word. I use the word fat just as I would use the words short, tall or blonde. The only thing wrong with the word fat is the manner in which it is used by the majority of people in this society. My friends involved with fat oppression use the word fat as a means of reclamation (a la “queer”) and I choose to do the same.

The central problem with fat oppression comes from the way in which we as Americans are taught to look at people. Everywhere we look – TV, movies, magazines and so on – thin people are portrayed as glamorous and cool. The encouragement of dieting is terribly prevalent and the dieting market takes in billions of dollars every year. Our society is obsessed with fat and the loss of it.

The irony is the fact that a majority of Americans are fat by national standards. Over 90 percent of women don’t conform to the diet standards developed by insurance companies in the 60s. The media create a need to lose weight because they realize most Americans aren’t statistically thin. By creating a standard of what is “normal” and then creating a need to achieve this normality, an industry of dependence is born – dependence upon diet pr…

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…re does this leave us to deal with the problem? First, be aware of the fact that discrimination exists and attempt to deal with it when it comes up. Don’t buy into the beauty myth that is so pervasive in this society and don’t patronize organizations which continue to perpetuate this (Calvin Klein, the new ASUW safe sex posters and so on.). Demand clothing stores to stock more fat-sized clothes and criticize them for price increases for fat people.

But the bottom line is to treat fat people just as you would any other person. Recognize fat people have to work incredibly hard both mentally and physically to do the same things a thin person takes for granted (i.e., going to the beach, flying on a plane). The excuses aren’t going to cut it anymore. People should be judged by the actions that they take and the opinions they hold, not for the body they were born into.

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