The population control law can now be used to implement repressive birth control measures in certain areas. By law, the government can identify certain areas where population control methods would be enacted. Local authorities now have the power to implement three-year birth spacing in areas with rapid population growth, but the statute doesn’t describe any punitive measures for parents who do not comply. Fundamentalist Buddhist fear that Muslims could take over the country, though they only make up ten percent of the populace, which is composed of 50 million inhabitants.
The Muslims of Myanmar are seeing this law particularly as discriminatory towards themselves. This might be due to the fact that the law was passed by the government after pressure from extremist Buddhists harbouring anti-Muslim sentiments in mind. The law was sharply criticized by many activists in Myanmar and opposed by the opposition National League for Democracy, but passed a joint parliamentary vote, 530 to 443, with 39 abstentions.
The population control law is just one element of a package of four “race and religion protection” bills. These include the conversion law, which means that government permission has to be sought before a person opts to convert to another religion. The monogamy law targets Muslims who practice a polygamous marriage as well as those citizens who are involved in various relationships. The inter-faith marriage bill will also grant government to oversee any marriage between a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist.
The law has been passed last month and is being cynically viewed by the Muslims throughout Myanmar, on account of the recent persecution that the Rohingya have gone through at the hands of extremist Buddhists. Thousands of Muslims in western Myanmar have been subjected to torture and humiliation, as they have been forced to flee their homes. The Rohingya are also not recognized as citizens by the government. They are socially reviled and not recognized by law.