A twenty year old girl in China, named Li Xue, has never been to school a day in her life. She has also never legally had access to healthcare. How is this possible? According to an article for CNN, it is because she is a second child. China has had a one child policy in place for three decades that allows for every family to have one child. This policy is said to have helped curb china’s population. An exception to the one child rule is that in rural areas a second child can be had if the parents then pay a fine. Li’s parents could not afford the fine and in return they were not given the legal household registration documents that would allow Li access to public health care, subsidized housing, and education. The family is now petitioning for a hearing to get Li’s documents.
Human Rights are meant to be universal. No one person should be left without what should be a basic guarantee. Li Xue has not been afforded many rights, that according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, she should have been granted since birth. First and foremost, “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law” and since she was not given her documentation she was not recognized for healthcare and when she fell ill she had falsely use either her mother or sister’s documentation to be considered a citizen to receive aid. By not having her documentation she was not allowed to receive healthcare or education, both rights as defined by the declaration. Basically as a second child she is barely considered a person and without her documentation isn’t at all in the eyes of her community. Her birth order is an ascribed status; she did not actively work for it, so why is she being punished? A one child rule seems extreme from the viewpoint of someone from an electoral democracy, like America where the rights of individuals are held sacred. At what point in a population crisis is it ok for a government to step in and say what individuals are allowed to do or not? According to Hans Rosling, providing education is a huge factor in controlling populations, as it will keep women in school longer thus delaying the need for a family. So how does a keeping second child, like Li, from education keep them from repeating the same thing as their parents and having multiple children? Ultimately this article brings forth more questions than it does answers. It begs to question China’s population control techniques and from there it questions human rights to the core. Whether or not this girl’s birth went against policy, she is still a human being and as such should be granted access to these basic rights. To not allow her these rights draws an arbitrary line of who is granted these rights and when it is ok to strip someone of them instead of the intention of a human right being a right afforded to all.