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Birth control at the crossroads

(Global Times)

15:53, September 20, 2011

A boy sits in front of a wall with a slogan “it is a citizen’s right and obligation to practise family planning” in a Haikou village in Hainan Province on December 27, 2009. Photo: CFP

Xie Gaosheng gets up early, takes a swallow of rice porridge, and hurries through the village to Gao Fang’s home; they have an important appointment that he doesn’t want her to miss.

Twenty-four-year-old Gao, has already given birth to two boys and Xie, 43, is determined she won’t get pregnant again.

Xie is the family planning officer in the village of Qiaoxia in Dongguan county, Jiangxi Province. He has spent two weeks lobbying and cajoling Gao, finally convincing her that it was in the best interest of her family, the village and the country that she have her tubes tied.

Today’s the day and Xie doesn’t want to give Gao the chance to change her mind. His strategy includes getting to Gao’s early to help her with her housework.

Before he arrives, Xie sighs and complains to the Global Times reporter, “The work is tough, now that we are no longer allowed to use compulsory measures to force any woman to accept sterilization. They have to do it of their own free will.”

Xie has worked as a family planning officer for more than 20 years, and has often come into conflict with local farmers who believe more offspring not only mean greater prosperity for a family but that a man has a duty to produce many male progeny.

Xie is under great pressure to produce results. This year his quota is to have at least 11 women from his village accept sterilization at the county’s family planning service station. As of September he’s only been able to convince three women to have the operation.

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