- By: Ilene Tsui
The Chinese saying, chi ku, literally translates as “eating bitterness,” and it is used to describe the plight of many of China’s working poor, especially women. As I boarded my plane from John F Kennedy International Airport to begin an eight week journey in China, I was unaware of how the clinical experiences I was to have there would change me. Although I had known of the social policies of communist China, I did not expect to feel the weight of government’s role in personal health—particularly in relation to family planning—and of how chi ku would be personified in the obstetrics-gynaecology clinic.
It has been nearly four decades since China’s one child policy was first introduced in 1979 as a method of population control after the 1950s post-war baby boom. Since that time, official statistics show that 336 million abortions, in addition to 196 million sterilisations of men and women,