China’s one-child policy is being ended by the Communist Party, which says that from next year parents will be allowed two children.
The move was announced through a statement in a state-run news agency, and was described as a response to the growing elderly population.
Commenting online, Chinese citizens spoke of the horrors faced by families as a result of the one-child policy.
“I can still remember when I was little, the family planning department broke down the door in my family home to grab my mum and sterilise her. I still carry this trauma to this day”, one said.
Another said that her first pregnancy was twins and that she was forced to be sterilised at 23.
“My heart hurt so much then – I’m so young and I can’t have any more children”, she said.
Under the one-child rule, families in rural areas are allowed to have a second child if their first was a girl.
The policy, officially in place since 1979, has reportedly led to the Government collecting over £200 billion in “extra-child fines”.
In 2010 a man told of how his wife had been beaten, locked up and forced to have an abortion for breaking the law.
Ahead of the announcement, US Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey said the one-child policy had created an “atmosphere of fear”.
“The brave pregnant woman who refuses to give in is usually detained and beaten – or, if she goes into hiding, her relatives are detained and beaten”, he said.
Smith also said there had been reports of “large scale and violent abortion enforcement campaigns in Guangdong, Fujian, Yunnan, Zhejiang, and Jiangxi provinces”.
Following a four-day long Communist Party meeting, the Xinhua state news agency reported that the policy “is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population”.
Chinese Government officials have stressed that the one-child policy will remain in force until the law is changed in March 2016.