In China’s Hubei province, a 42-year-old woman has died after undergoing a forced sterilization. A mother of two children, Shen Hongxia, reportedly suffered from “gynecological diseases” according to local media. According to husband Cheng Shixiong, Hongxia had been warned by physicians that sterilization would hold significant dangers for her.
However, Chinese officials pressured the woman to submit to sterilization. Local officials in charge of contraception and forced abortion in Tongshan County had received poor ratings from higher-ups for failing to “crack down” on families that had given birth to more than one child, which is China’s maximum. During visits to the couple’s home, officials promised to assist in obtaining a “hukou” (a household registration required in China) if they agreed to the sterilization. The couple was also offered a 2,000 yuan ($325) compensation upon completion of the procedure.
Hongxia died on March 19, just a few hours after the operation. She had been threatened with legal action by government officials if she had not complied. She bled to death after the botched surgery. She was admitted to a medical facility at 11 a.m., only to die by mid-afternoon after uncontrolled bleeding ensued after tubal ligation surgery.
The couple’s second child, a boy aged one year, had been denied the hukuo registration after his birth. The hukuo is required when he is registered for school in just a few years.
The information officer for Tongshan County, Quan Xianfa, disavowed any responsibility on the part of the government and claimed that Hongxia had signed papers allowing the surgery herself. It was thus, claimed the official, that the operation was not forced. The young mother’s death was purely an accident, said Quan. “If you trip and fall when you are walking, does it mean you have to blame the people who built the roads? ” Quan said.
Chinese officials are now offering to pay widower Cheng 1 million yuan ($161,700) in compensation for his wife’s death on the condition that he should refrain from legal action against local officials. So far, media reports says that Cheng has already received 500,000 yuan ($80,871) in compensation.
Devastated Cheng insists on justice. “I warned them so many times that the operation would cost my wife her life,” he said. “Someone has to be held accountable for her death.”
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