Family planning policies now more family friendly

By Zhang Chunxiao, Yao Yuan and Liu Jingyang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 8, 2011
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Driving through China's countryside a decade ago, it was not uncommon to see harsh-sounding family planning slogans painted on the sides of buildings.

Frightening phrases like "one more baby means one more tomb" and "first baby delivered, litigation imposed after the second, and the third and fourth killed!" were used to deter parents from having additional children after China adopted the one-child policy.

These slogans are about to go the way of the dinosaurs, as the government is working to replace the phrases with gentler suggestions.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission launched a one-year campaign in June to substitute coarsely-worded and insensitive family planning slogans with more pleasant sounding alternatives. The campaign targets slogans that are "incorrect or obsolete in content, uncouth in wording, or improperly placed," according to a notice posted on the commission's website.

The new slogans will appeal to people's positive emotions and express humanity while using concise, standardized language, the notice said.

When the family planning policy was implemented in 1979, the slogans were "relatively mild" and designed specifically to inform the public about the policy, said Qin Tao, a government official from the city of Shangqiu in Henan Province, one of the country's most populated regions. Slogans like "one child is fairly adequate, two are just enough and three are excessive" were quite common, said Qin, who has years of experience in promoting family planning in rural areas.

Although the slogans allowed rural residents to become familiar with the policy, family planning efforts encountered great obstacles in the countryside during the 1980s and 1990s. With the rather low cost of raising a child largely overlooked, rural families tended to have more children. An absence of a sound legal system in many rural areas led to authorities resorting to harsh and illicit means to crack down on excess births. Teams of anonymous thugs were hired to confiscate livestock and food from families who violated the policy, with some of the families even held in detention from time to time, Qin said.

In 1995, the National Population and Family Planning Commission banned the practice of detaining and torturing families with excess children, as well as the practices of confiscating their property and levying nonexistent fines.

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