Myanmar Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi defended his nation's two-child policy against the Rohingya ethnic group, claiming in a Reuters interview that it would "benefit the Bengali [Rohingya] women."
The two-child policy has existed since 2005, but has only recently begun to be enforced in Rakhine state, where the majority of Myanmar's estimated 800,000 Rohingya reside. The stateless Muslim minority are called "Bengalis" by the Myanmar government, which identifies them as migrants from neighboring Bangladesh.
The reproduction limit has gained new popularity among Myanmar officials as tensions between Buddhists — who form the vast majority of the population — and Muslims continue to rise, following violent unrest that erupted in June 2012 and has continued to emerge in various regions of the nation.
"The Bengali women living in the Rakhine State have a lot of children. In some areas, one family has 10 or 12 children," Khin Yi told Reuters. "It's not good for child nutrition. It's not very easy for schooling. It is not very easy to take care of the children." He replied with "Yes" when asked if he supported the policy.
Thousands of Rohingya remain displaced in camps in Myanmar's northwest, living in often unpleasant conditions — which are likely to worsen as monsoon rains come in.
"Fear of punishment under the two-child rule compel far too many Rohingya women to risk their lives and turn to desperate and dangerous measures to self-induce abortions," said Human Rights Watch spokesman Brad Adams in a recent report.
Political icon and National League for Democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, long silent on the Rohingya topic, officially denounced the two-child policy at the end of May, calling it "against human rights."
Suu Kyi also called for the revision of Myanmar'sCitizenship Law during last week's World Economic Forum, a regulation which was first created in 1982 and has been used to bar the Rohingya and other minority groups within the nation from full citizenship.