03/06/2013 07:03 BST | Updated 03/08/2013 06:12 BST

Unmarried Chinese Mothers Could Be Fined

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Unmarried mothers could face fines in Wuhan (file picture)

Women who give birth out of wedlock could face heavy fines under draft family planning legislation in central China.

According to the proposals published on Friday, unmarried parents who do not have "appropriate certificates from the other party" will incur fees, China's Global Times reports.

While the wording refers to "parties" and "parents", the move has been interpreted by state media as mainly targeting unmarried mothers and women who knowingly have children with married men. Regions including Beijing, Guangdong and Henan already have similar policies in place, the paper adds.

The draft was released online on Friday and public suggestions and comments will be accepted until June 7.

An unnamed official told China Daily: "Wuhan's commission will take into account public opinion and submit the amended regulation to the people's congress for approval before it can be carried out."

The paper says the draft currently states unmarried mothers will be liable for a fine equivalent to at least twice her average income in the previous year.

The news was announced days after a newborn baby boy was rescued from a sewage pipe

The proposals come just days after a newborn baby boy was rescued from a sewage pipe in Jinhua City, eastern China.

The two-day-old baby boy was found stuck head first in a 10cm diameter pipe and was saved by fire crews using saws and pliers.

The little boy's unmarried mother has since come forward, claiming the incident was an accident.

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Chen Yaya, a gender equality researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Associated Press: "If the policy is approved, there could be more 'sewer babies', because when mothers can't afford the cost, they might think about throwing their babies away."

Chen added: "It looks like the policy is targeted just at women from my understanding."

It is believed the unnamed mother has been reunited with her son, who suffered cuts and bruising during his ordeal.

China brought in a one child policy as a means of slowing the birth rate in 1979. It restricts married, urban couples to having one child, with exemptions allowed for rural couples, ethnic minorities and parents without siblings.