A new bill introduced the idea of having women of Myanmar practice "birth spacing". This means that women are required to wait at least three years between each pregnancy. Physicians for Human Rights believe that it will help with curb child and maternal deaths since within Southeast Asia, Myanmar has one of the highest infant mortality rates. This bill could affect the Muslim Rohingya population in the western Rakhine state of Myanmar, who already have been subjected to restrictions on marriage, abuse, registration of births amongst other human right violations. Widney Brown of Physicians for Human Rights, has expressed that with this particular bill could lead to forced abortions and the sterilization of women and men, ultimately keeping the Rohingya from having children at all. Yanghee Lee, a United Nations special reporter on human rights in Myanmar, says the bill on population control and other proposed laws on religious conversions can worsen the ethnic tensions following a government plan in February to revoke identification "white cards" for minorities. The bill has currently been passed by Myanmar's parliament and awaits for the approval by President Thein Sein before it becomes an enforced law.
Even though the government has taken action to provide more opportunities in accessing education and contraception in hopes to improve child and maternal health, passing a bill for "birth spacing" may not be the most efficient solution. The proposed bill creates complications for the Rohingya in which they will believe their right on how to have kids will be taken away. This ethnic group amongst others will continue to feel abused by the laws set by the government who are already subjected to pervasive and persistent discrimination within the country. As said by Widney Brown, "We want to encourage lower fertility rates but it can't be done coercively or by suppressing the growth of marginalized groups". I think the government should compose new tactics in lowering the infant mortality rate while still continuing to provide education on maternal and child health.
April 22, 2015