Happy Chinese families in the country’s adverts have one thing in common – they all have just one child.
Since 1982 China has imposed a one child policy on its people in a bid to rein back its spiralling demographics, and woe betide anyone who wants more than one child.
Wu Weiping, a high school teacher, was told to abort when she fell pregnant with her second child in 2008. So she divorced her husband and pretended to marry a cousin, but was found out. She lost her job, her husband was demoted, and she was fined over 14,000 euros, which she refuses to pay.
Being able to actually deliver her baby was the most important thing, said Wu: “What I worried about most at that time, was whether I could give birth to my baby safely. I had seen too many cases of women who tried to have two children being forced to have abortions. I was really worried that I could be the next victim of that.”
Li Yongan and his wife had a son in 2007 when they already had a 13 year-old daughter. He lost his university lecturer’s job, and was fined 28,700 euros. He is not allowed to register his son, so the boy cannot register at state schools and private schools are expensive.
“I never regret having a second child but I have been living with depression and anger for years. I have suffered too much mental torture and struggled a lot, just because I had two children. This just makes no sense at all,” said Li.
More couples are challenging the law, which policymakers say is becoming counter-productive as the population ages, and they believe prosperity means people are unlikely to return to the big families of old.