August 24th 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Embryo experiments: are there any limits?

ALP's problems deeper than pre-selections and branch-stacking

Zimbabwe: Mugabe aggravates drought crisis

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Dizzy with success / Angry amnesiacs

EMBRYO EXPERIMENTATION: Consuming our unborn is indefensible

LAW: High Court judgment deepens native title confusion

General Cosgrove was wrong on Vietnam (letter)

Why the stock market plunged (letter)

Snowy River plan damages Murray basin (letter)

Infrastructure savings (letter)

COMMENT: Whose voice can be heard?

VICTORIA: Public forces backdown on Victorian sex zone plans

POPULATION: Time to set the record straight

COMMENT: Can the ABC be saved from itself?

ECONOMY: The Reserve, interest rates and inflation

ASIA: Taiwan's banking system under siege

BOOKS: Baby Hunger: The New Battle for Motherhood, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

BOOKS: American Scoundrel: The Life of the Notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles, by Thomas Keneally

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Time to set the record straight

by Babette Francis

News Weekly, August 24, 2002
At the UN Fourth Women's World Conference in Beijing in 1995, I had a mild confrontation with Pamela Bone who was covering the event for The Age.

President Fujimori of Peru had just launched a scathing attack on the Vatican because of the Holy See delegation's refusal to approve the use of artificial birth control methods for population control. Pamela Bone asked me what I thought of his speech, I replied that I thought it was atrocious. Apart from the controversial issue of family planning methods, it is just not done at UN Conferences for the delegation of one country to vilify another delegation.

Domestic violence

I then asked Pamela why in one of her columns in The Age she had claimed that "domestic violence" was the main cause of congenital birth defects.

This was a feminist quote taken from the March of Dimes, a pro-abortion "charity" in the US. It is manifestly incorrect as the most common congenital birth defect is Down's Syndrome, which is a chromosomal abnormality and has nothing to do with "domestic violence".

I asked Pamela Bone to make the correction, and she just laughed and said she had no intention of doing so.

Nor, I suspect, will she update the information given to The Age readers about President Fujimori. Relevant to the recent elimination of US funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) comes the news that the UNFPA had been co-operating with Fujimori in coercive birth control practices in Peru.

In "an exceptional case of national legislation", the Government of Peru in the early 1990s - under President Fujimori - established the UN Population Fund as the "Technical Secretary" of Fujimori's infamous forced sterilisation campaigns.

Fujimori's National Population Program consisted of the systematic and forced sterilisation of over 100,000 women, during so-called "ligation festivals", particularly aimed at rural women and minorities.

The report of the Peruvian congressional commission, called the "Anticoncepcion Quirurgica Voluntaria", or AQV Commission, notes that Fujimori's coercive population control campaigns "presupposed an inverse relationship between population growth and economic growth.

"Based on this mistaken presupposition, [Fujimori's] National Population Program established demographic strategies and methods explicitly restrictive and controlling; in this line, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), known for its support of population control in developing countries, took charge.

"For that end, the United Nations Population Fund act[ed] as Technical Secretary, working in coordination with the National Population Council.

"UNFPA increased their support and even participation in the task during the government of the ex-president Alberto Fujimori, especially in the period 1995-2000," the report states.

The coercive sterilisation campaigns "executed by the Peruvian Government [under Fujimori] were induced and financed by international organisations - especially the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)," states the report.

The UNFPA, along with other international groups, "brought not only special financing but also demographic goals, for the focalised reduction of the Peruvian population and the fecundity of Peruvian women, especially the women of rural areas."

Steve Mosher's Population Research Institute (a non-profit organisation dedicated to debunking the myth that the world is overpopulated) first investigated UNFPA-supported forced sterilisation campaigns in Peru in 1998, then again in 1999.

Victims of forced sterilisation testified that women in Peru are routinely treated like animals by family planning cadres, called "beasts" and "dogs" and forcibly sterilised.

Based on this evidence, the US Congress passed the Tiahrt Amendment in 1998 which prohibits US funds from going to NGOs that support coercive contraception programs.

Vietnamese women are also victims of its Government's coercive population control programs, aided and abetted by UNFPA, which operates seven Vietnamese county programs, including programs in Thai Bin and Quang Nam counties.

In Thai Bin, women testified that they long to have more than two children but cannot because of this county's unbending family planning law. Women are forced to use IUDs; punishment for non-compliance includes fines and forced abortion.

In Quang Nam county, entire villages in remote mountain areas inhabited by minorities have been forcibly sterilised. Despite Government claims that women of the Montagnard tribe are only subject to fines and incentives, Population Research Institute investigations suggest otherwise.

Over the years, UNFPA has spent tens of millions of dollars in Vietnam to strengthen the will of the Vietnamese Government's coercive family planning machine and presented its "United Nations Population Award" to Vietnam's National Committee for Population and Family Planning in 1999.

The US has eliminated its funding to UNFPA and Australia should do the same .

  • Babette Francis is National and Overseas Co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc

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