School scraps controversial pregnancy test for students

Updated: 2007-06-01 17:02

URUMQI -- A vocational school in northwest China has decided to scrap a controversial pregnancy test for female students amid concerns about protecting students' privacy.

The school, located in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has decided not to make pregnancy tests part of students' annual physical check-ups, said Wang Hongli, headmaster of the agriculture vocational school.

Around 80 percent of the students are girls aged between 16 and 19.

Last week, the school ruled that all girl pupils must take a pregnancy test, with results divulged only to the school doctor and the student's tutor. But it also said that if a pregnancy was discovered, the school would inform the student's parents.

The rule has sparked controversy among students and in society at large.

"This rule is intrusive, insensitive and old-fashioned. Why not just make girls captives in their own houses ?" asked an angry female school student.

Headmaster Wang, caught in the center of the controversy, said: "80 percent of my 500 students are teenage girls," adding that he and his colleagues felt it was incumbent on them to try to limit the number of unwanted pregnancies.

The number of pregnancies among unmarried young women is rising in Xinjiang.

None of the parents are against the new rule, said Wang. He pointed out that young women were a vulnerable group and said that the measure was designed to protect them.

But after reconsidering the issue of student privacy, Wang is ready to give up the idea. "We will abandon this policy," Wang said, "public pressure is just too great."

"This rule may not please some of the girls and maybe it infringes their privacy; but what happens if they find themselves pregnant?" said Zhang Yuanxin, a lawyer at Xinjiang West Law Firm.

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