July 6, 2006

Light penalties for forced hysterectomies in China

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court has lightly punished
welfare workers and doctors over forced hysterectomies on two
mentally retarded girls because the crime was not considered
severe, state media said on Thursday.

The deputy manager of the girls' care home had proposed
that the girls' uteruses be removed so they would be easier to
supervise, the Beijing News said.

That official had been given a one-year suspended jail
sentence, and the manager and two doctors six months'

"Since the particulars of the crime committed by the
accused were not severe, and since the malevolence was
comparatively low, the court could consider a light
punishment," the paper reported.

Still, the court had found on Wednesday that the surgery
had caused a "serious injury and a violation of the girls'

The paper did not give the girls' ages but said they had
begun to menstruate.

One of the doctors' lawyers defended their action, saying
that such operations were common in China.

"The girls were unable to care for themselves," the paper
quoted the lawyer, Tan Zhen, as saying. "At the same time, they
didn't possess the conditions for marriage or for

"As far as the guardians and the doctors were concerned,
the operation was in the two girls' interests. It was to
protect the two disabled girls' rights.

"Similar operations can be performed abroad with court
approval, but China lacks this legal framework," the lawyer