Myanmar enacts controversial population control law

Myanmar’s religious and ethnic minorities feared to be targeted and suppressed by population control law

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Myanmar's president has signed a law that introduces a practice of birth spacing, requiring women to wait three years between pregnancies, despite warnings that it will target minorities and is against women's rights.

The bill, called the Population Control Health Care Bill, which was drafted under pressure from anti-Muslim Buddhist monks and passed by the parliament in April, was approved by President Thein Sein hours after US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken voiced his objection.

"We shared the concerns that these bills can exacerbate ethnic and religious divisions and undermine the country's efforts to promote tolerance and diversity," Blinken told reporters on Friday.

The law gives regional authorities the power to implement birth-spacing guidelines, that the government argues it is necessary for curbing maternal and child death, and controlling population growth.

However, activists repeatedly said it could strip women of the freedom and right to choose how they have children. They have also warned that religious and ethnic minorities, who are already subjected to persistent discrimination, would face forced abortions and sterilizations.

The Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar have already been subjected to many restrictions such as marriage, registration of births, freedom of movement, and deep-seeded hatred for them increases potential dangers and fear for serious human rights violations.

Extremist monks have been arguing that Muslims will surpass Buddhists in the country, despite the fact that local governments have already enforced a two child policy to control the birthrate of Rohingya people.

According to the UN, Rohingyas are the most persecuted minority in the planet. During the last two years Buddhists have killed hundreds and forced at least 140 thousand to flee the country. Those who stayed in Myanmar live under apartheid-like conditions in camps.

TRTWorld and agencies