SHUNHO - Liu Changjiang is a villager from the Shunho District of Henan Province. He is single, has no family and lives in a seniors home. Luckily for him, he is one of the few people for whom the government guarantees a state retirement.
But recently, he was also the unlikely recipient of a vasectomy, which was performed at a local family planning clinic specializing in sterilization surgery. Among the family planning measures used in China, vasectomy is one of the most effective, typically practiced by couples who already have two children and are under 40 years old. Changjiang is 58.
As it would appear, Liu wasnt really qualified for the vasectomy. Not only is he childless, but in the eyes of local villagers, he is a bit simple. Rumors are hes never even had a girlfriend. So why sterilize him? Most likely, say some locals, to fulfill the municipal governments family planning target numbers.
One day this past March, another resident at the nursing home, Wang, told Mr. Changjiang: Lets go! Im taking you to the hospital for a health examination! Outside the home, someone was waiting to take them directly to the Yongcheng Family Planning Center.
Once at the clinic, Changjiang realized he was to undergo sterilization surgery. Naturally, he was very reluctant. So Wang, Changjiangs best friend from the nursing home, said: If you do it, youll be paid.
How much? Changjiang wanted to know.
Three hundred yuan ($47), Wang replied.
Okay! the now willing patient replied.
According to one Shunho official familiar with the episode, local authorities paid Wang 800 yuan ($125) to convince his friend to go through with the surgery. After paying 300 of that to Changjiang, Wang ended up with 500 yuan, or $78.
Pressure from the top
Why is the local village willing to fork out this kind of cash to fake its sterilization obligations? Because of pressure from on high. One anonymous village official confirmed that the local government has a family planning goal to meet each year, so each village is given a vasectomy and abortion quota.
In the past three years, the annual quota for Changjiangs village was eight vasectomies and five abortions. The quota is set based on population size. If we do no meet the target, the village will be penalized, the anonymous town official explained.
The problem for the town is that people rarely agree to be sterilized. Nobody really goes for vasectomy any more, said one woman being examined in the Yongcheng Family Planning Center. Everybody bribes the officials to get false certificates. Vasectomy is very harmful. After a man has it done, he wont be able to do heavy work any more.
A false certificate can cost thousands of yuan, the woman added. But there are discounts available for people who have friends among the towns party officials, according to one worker at the Yongcheng Family Planning Center.
The certificates themselves, however, dont solve the quota problem. A man can use a fake certificate to escape the knife, but the quota numbers wont be tallied off until someone actually goes through with the surgery. Thus the need for people like Changjiang, who serve as replacements. According to the local official: the doctor does not check the identity of the person who undergoes surgery.
Returning to the nursing home, Changjiang told the facilitys director about the vasectomy surgery. The man didnt believe him until he took Changjiang for a check up in the homes medical center. At least Changjiang is now exempt from doing any heavy work at the facility.
Changjiangs nephew first heard about the surgery a month after it was performed. He didnt dare complain to local authorities. All he said was: Tell me, isnt this a farce that a 60-year-old who is not even married can be taken for a vasectomy?
Read the original article in Chinese
Photo - Praziquantel