Officials Apologize, Declare Man’s Vasectomy Illegal
A county government in southwestern China said a family planning bureau apparently broke the law by sterilizing a father of four against his will in the name of birth control.
A notice posted Tuesday on a Zhenxiong county website also pledged to discipline family planning officials in Luokan, Yunnan province, and offered the 42-year-old man, Hu Zhenggao, an apology.
Hu’s account drew international attention after he described the vasectomy experience on the Chinese microblog Weibo, claiming he was “threatened with violence” as well as “beaten and pushed.”
Forced sterilizations were not uncommon in China before October 2013, when the central government started phasing out the nation’s decades-old one-child policy. Family planning bureaus were known to enforce the policy by ordering mandatory abortions for women and vasectomies for men whose childbearing had already reached legal limits.
Hu supported his claim of violent treatment by posting photos of himself with scratches on his body, and declared he wanted neither compensation nor an apology from family planning officials.
“I just hope the investigator punishes relevant violators based on what really happened,” Hu later said in an interview with the Beijing News newspaper.
The incident occurred shortly after Hu returned to Luokan, his hometown, after living many years in Sichuan province. As the director of a philanthropic organization called the Overseas Chinese Foundation Tightrope Charity Group, he went to Luokan in hopes of building 200 reading rooms with free books for the public, he said.
Weibo users said they were shocked by Hu’s report and mistreatment claims, although some noted that as a father of four, he had already run afoul of the one-child policy.
“Although Mr. Hu has violated the family planning policy, the (bureau’s) barbaric practice is not in line with a civilized society,” said one Weibo poster.
Zhenxiong county’s announcement said Luokan government officials had been ordered to write self-criticism reports, and that family planning officials who were involved would be investigated and punished.
Initially, Zhenxiong officials denied Hu’s claim. County government spokesman Xiong Tao told the website The Paper on Feb. 14 that Hu had undergone the vasectomy voluntarily, and that he was neither forced nor beaten.
But after Hu’s Weibo post went viral, the Yunnan government launched an investigation of its own.
The county’s announcement said Yunnan officials had ruled the surgery illegal and that it had been performed without Hu’s consent.
Hu said he resorted to the microblog posting only after local government officials ignored his complaint about the forced sterilization. He told the Beijing News he hoped “the local government will never dare do this kind of thing again.”
The newspaper said a Luokan official had offered Hu a private apology, but that the father had refused the offer.
“I don’t want compensation or a private apology,” Hu told the newspaper.
Under the one-child policy, only certain minority and rural families could legally bear more than one child. Beijing decided to let parents bear more children in hopes of reversing demographic trends that included an aging population and shrinking workforce.
Contact reporter Song Shiqing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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