China is carrying out forced sterilisations of women of ethnic minority populations in the western Xinjiang region, according to research published on 29 June.
More than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are imprisoned in re-education camps. Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.
Women have been involuntarily fitted with intrauterine contraceptives or coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries, even were they had fewer than the permitted two children. Government documents showed that women in some rural minority communities in the region have received frequent mandatory gynaecological exams and bi-monthly pregnancy tests from local health officials. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, with the parents of three or more families incarcerated unless they can pay huge fines. Of the 484 camp detainees listed in Karakax county in Xinjiang, 149 were there for having too many children — the most common reason for holding them.
Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.
Population growth in Xinjiang counties predominantly home to ethnic minorities fell below the average growth in primarily Han-majority counties between 2017 and 2018, a year after the officially recorded rate of sterilisations in the region sharply overtook the national rate in 2016.
China’s anti-Muslim eugenics programme also seeks to pair Uyghur women with men from the Han ethnic majority, and is aggressively promoting voluntary intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uyghurs. Muslim women whose husbands have been detained in Chinese internment camps are being forced to share beds with male government officials assigned to monitor them in their homes. Uyghur families in Xinjiang are required to invite government officials into their homes.
China has deployed more than a million spies — most of them male and part of the country’s Han ethnic majority — to stay in Uyghur households every two months as part of what it calls the “Pair Up and Become Family” programme. The policy is sparking fears of a campaign of mass rape of Uyghur women.