Friday, June 15, 2012

Forced Abortion & Adoption in China

There is a recent photo of a Chinese mother who was "forced to abort" her 7-month old baby in the hospital, has been circulated on the web in China. She was dragged out from her relative's home and "forced to abort" her baby by the Chinese authorities as she couldn't afford to pay the hefty fine for illegally having more than one-child in China. This news causes uproar and gets a lot of media attention in China as well as the worldwide. 

A Chinese mother was forced to abort her baby girl in the hospital in China. Her aborted 7 month old fetus was lying beside her which was posted by her husband. (Photo: Reuters & Asiaone News, Singapore)

This inhumane treatment of illegal and forced abortion is happening in China for many years but the Chinese government and authorities sweep this inhumane issue under the carpet and prevent the Chinese media from reporting it. 

Actually, the AlJazeera English correspondent, Melissa Chan highlighted about "illegal forced abortion" news by the Chinese authorities in China two years ago.  She also highlighted the news about the China's government illegally trafficking Chinese babies from families who violate China's one-child policy. Most of the babies are sold to foreign adoption agencies in the United States and Europe. Here are the news reported by AlJazeera English in China between 2010-2011:

(Updated News): 

Husband in China forced abortion 'missing': family

The husband of a Chinese woman whose forced abortion seven months into her pregnancy caused uproar has disappeared, a relative said Tuesday, adding her family is being harassed on a daily basis.

Feng Jianmei had to go through the termination earlier this month in the northern province of Shaanxi because she failed to pay a hefty fine for exceeding China's strict "one-child" population control policy.

The case caused an outcry when photos emerged online of Feng lying in a hospital bed in Zhenping county next to her baby's bloody corpse, prompting an official probe that concluded action should be taken against the perpetrators.

But a relative said Tuesday that Feng's husband Deng Jiyuan had gone missing Sunday.

"The last time I saw him, he was with all of us and he said that some leader wanted to speak to him, so he left," the relative, who refused to be named or otherwise identified, told AFP.

"We haven't seen him again since, and we can't get through to his mobile."
Calls made to police and government in Zhenping, and to the higher-level Ankang city government, went unanswered.

State news agency Xinhua reported late Tuesday that several government officials in Zhenping had been "punished" for involvement in the forced abortion.

Xinhua said that an investigation had concluded that the termination had "violated her (Feng's) rights late in her pregnancy" and that the head of the family planning bureau had been removed from his post.

The relative added that since Sunday, scores of unidentified people had been harassing the family.

"On Sunday evening we decided to go home (from hospital) and a lot of people had gathered outside," the relative said. "They hung banners on a bridge and many people came and shouted that we were traitors. Now wherever we go people follow us."

Feng's family members have spoken to foreign media and the relative said the protest could be linked to these interviews. It was unclear who the protesters were, but online reports suggested they had been hired by local authorities.

"If this is not organised by the powers-that-be, how can people make banners on their own and carry them out to the street?" one web user wrote on Sina's popular microblog service.

China's family planning policy aims to control the world's largest national population, now swollen to 1.3 billion people.

Under the measure, urban families are generally allowed to have one child, while rural families can give birth to two children if the first is a girl. Parents have to pay a fine if they contravene the rules.

Rights groups say that as a result of the policy thousands of women have been forced by authorities to terminate their pregnancies.


Gruesome photos put spotlight on China's one-child policy

  Family photo

Photos of Feng Jianmei on her hospital bed after a forced abortion have been circulating on the web. The photos were taken by her sister who in turn contacted the media about the story. The photos originally appeared in a local newspaper report online and then they were picked by netizens and distributed online.
Updated at 10:33 p.m. ET: China state media says city officials have apologized to Feng Jiamei and suspended three officials, the BBC reported.
Xinhua news said the Ankang city government will urge the county government to review its family planning operations, according to the BBC report.

BEIJING – Feng Jianmei says she was manhandled by seven people, some of them local family planning officials, some of whom she didn’t know.
Feng, 22 years old and seven months pregnant, was dragged out of her relative’s home, carried and shoved into a van that headed straight to a hospital on June 2, she told NBC News in phone interview.
She was blindfolded, thrown on a bed, and forced to sign a document that she couldn’t read with the blindfold still on her eyes. Then two shots were injected into her belly. Thirty hours later, on the morning June 4, she gave birth to a dead baby girl.

Feng is one of the many Chinese women who have been forced to have abortions under China’s strict one-child-only policy started in late 1970s to contain the country’s fast growing population, which has now topped 1.3 billion people.

One-child policy
China’s long time Communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong originally encouraged women to have as many children as possible during the Cold War-era when human power was believed to be an important force if war broke out. But the country’s rulers soon found it too difficult to feed the huge population – so they adopted a harsh policy that allows urban citizens to have only one child, and rural couples to have two, if the first child is a girl. 

The policy has been carried out for more than three decades despite public opposition, from human rights activists to ordinary people. Thousands of years of Chinese culture fostered the belief that “more children is more blessing,” especially in remote and rural areas where the elderly lack adequate social benefits and depend on children as they grow old.

Government family planning officials are also under pressure to make sure their constituencies follow the quota of babies allowed. When there’s no clear law telling them what they can and cannot do, forced abortions, often on late-terms pregnancies, have become the norm, particularly for the poor who are unable to pay the hefty fines to have additional children. 

Advocates on behalf of these women are usually ignored or face government repression. For example, Chen Guangcheng, the famous blind lawyer and human rights activist, represented victims of family planning abuse in Shandong Province. Chen was jailed for four years for his advocacy and put under house arrest until he recently escaped illegal detainment and fled to the U.S. last month.

There are no official figures of how many women in China unwillingly terminate pregnancies every year. “All Girls Allowed,” an organized founded by former 1989 student protest leader Chai Ling, claims there are 1.3 million forced abortions annually

‘How can I agree to do that, as a mother?’
Feng Jianmei didn’t realize she wasn’t allowed to have a second child (her first daughter was born in 2007) since everyone else around her was permitted to have a second child. Both she and her husband Deng Jiyuan took for granted that they would have the same right. But the family planning office in Zengjiazhen, a small town in Shaanxi province in the heart of China, thought differently. 

Through a rigorous and rigid household registration system designed to control population movement, the central government classifies all its citizens as either city dwellers or rural peasants. The registration, also known in Chinese as hukou, determines not only a citizen’s residence but also what kind of social services individuals are eligible for.

It is very difficult to change one’s hukou although there are many ways, including marrying a person with a different registration status, applying for a new status through one’s job, or paying an enormous sum of money. 

The local family planning office decided that Feng wasn’t allowed to have a second child because she didn’t have the necessary permit – apparently she had failed to relocate her hukou to Zengjiazhen when she moved from her original province of Inner Mongolia.

But the couple says they had no idea their plan to have a second child was connected with Feng’s hukou.

They were given another option that would solve the problem: pay a fine of $6,400. But that was an impossible amount for the couple to afford – Deng is a migrant worker and Feng is a farmer. 

“I told you, $6,400, not even a penny less. I told your dad that and he said he has no money,” the family planning official wrote to Deng in a text message that has been made public. “You were too careless, you didn’t think this was a big deal.”

Feng’s sister received the same warning; if they couldn’t afford to help pay the fine, it was only a matter of time before her sister had to get rid of the baby, whether she wanted to or not.

Things came to a head on June 2, but according to the local government, Feng agreed to the abortion.

The Zhenping Population and Family Planning Bureau released on June 11 an official stamped document, which says that “after government cadre’s repeated persuasion, Feng Jianmei agreed to have an abortion at 15:40 on June 2.” 

“No, I didn’t agree to do it,” Feng told NBC News. “How can I agree to do that, as a mother?”

She sobbed when asked what happened next, and said she was too upset to think about it. She said all those officials who kidnapped her disappeared after the abortion, and she’s still suffering from a constant headache.

Two appalling photos of her were taken and posted online that show her lying in bed, looking weak and helpless, with a dead and bloody baby next to her. 

The photos were taken by her sister who in turn contacted the media about the story. The photos originally appeared in a local newspaper report online and then they were picked by netizens and distributed online.

‘If this evil policy is not stopped, this country will have no humanity’
Forced abortions in China are not new, but Feng’s story spread rapidly via social media, and outrage was immediate and unanimous. On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging site, netizens left thousands of angry comments, although many of the posts were quickly deleted by government censors. 

“The purpose of family planning was to control population, but now it has become murder population,” wrote Li Chengpeng, a well-known Chinese writer. “It was a method to contain population, but now it is a way to make money. 

When you can make money by killing, what else are you afraid to do? A seven-month baby can think already. I want to ask the murderer, how do you face your own mother when you go home? If this evil policy is not stopped, this country will have no humanity.”

Zhao Chu, another writer, called it pure murder. “This is not about enforcing the policy, it is about depriving someone’s right to live. We avoid the nature of it by using a medical word ‘enforced abortion.’ For so long family planning seems like something completely irrelevant of human life. It’s like coal mining or digging mushrooms. Human life has become lifeless indexes, some cold, meaningless numbers.

“Also, pushed by heavy fines, the controversial policy has become profit-oriented activities that everyone hates. The worst victims are those of low-class rural people who have no power to fight. Their tears and cries are not heard by so called mainstream society and the victims become worse than the untouchables,” said Zhao.

Many called for the one-child policy to be outlawed. “We feel so sorry for the dead baby girl, we criticize those so-called law enforcers. But we should rethink the 30-year-long family planning policy. It’d be worth it if this could help to change the policy! We keep our eyes open!” commented user A-Kun on his Weibo page.

Even Hu Xijin, chief editor of Global Times, one of China’s most pro-government newspapers, criticized the forced abortion on his Weibo account.

“I strongly oppose the barbarous forced abortion to this 7-month-pregnant mother. Time has changed and the intensity of enforcing family planning has changed. We should promote civilized family planning,” Hu wrote.

But he added that he didn’t think the whole policy should be abolished. “Don’t use Hong Kong and Japan as an argument to deny China’s population policy. Those places are small and developed early, fed by the whole world’s resources. But the world resources cannot afford to feed a China with billions of people.”

‘This has damaged the image of family planning work’
NBC News tried to contact both town and city level family planning offices in Zengjiazhen and Ankang, but the calls went unanswered. 
A report from Xinhua, China’s official government news agency, released on Thursday said that the Shaanxi Provincial Family Planning Committee has sent an investigation team to Zengjiazhen and requested local government to have the responsible parties held accountable.

“This has damaged the image of family planning work, and had an adverse effect on the society. The committee will resolutely prevent such things from happening again,” the Xinhua news report said.
Feng’s conversation with NBC News was interrupted three times by what she said were government cadres entering her hospital ward to talk.
When asked what she would do next or whether they will seek legal help, she uttered an answer in a very low voice: “I have no idea.” 


'Forced abortion' picture causes uproar in China

Graphic images posted online showing the bloody corpse of a baby whose mother was allegedly forced to terminate her pregnancy at seven months have caused an uproar in China.

Rights groups say authorities in north China's Shaanxi province forced Feng Jianmei to abort her pregnancy on June 2 because she was unable to pay a 40,000 yuan ($6,270) fine for exceeding China's "one-child" population control policy.

Authorities in Zhenping county, where the abortion took place, said that Feng had agreed to the procedure, but a relative told AFP that she and her husband had opposed the abortion.

The relative, who asked not to be named, also confirmed the authenticity of a photograph posted online of Feng on a hospital bed next to the blood-smeared body of her baby.

Outraged Chinese web users expressed doubt that Feng had agreed to the abortion, and even state-run media outlets condemned the procedure.
"Who would ever drop a bleeding baby beside its mother?" posted one Chinese web user on Internet news portal

"This is what they say the Japanese devils and Nazis did. But it's happening in reality and it is by no means the only case... They (the officials) should be executed."

Another web user, posting on popular forum, said China's family planning system had been "openly killing people for years in the name of national policy" adding: "What is wrong with society?"

China has implemented its draconian family planning policy since the late 1970s in an effort to control a population that has grown to 1.3 billion people, the world's largest.

Under the policy, urban families are generally allowed to have one child, while rural families can give birth to two children if the first is a girl.

"Feng Jianmei's story demonstrates how the one-child policy continues to sanction violence against women every day," said Chai Ling, head of the US-based rights group All Girls Allowed.

China's official media also condemned the case, but said the controversial family planning policy should remain in place.

A commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper said in English that late-term forced abortions should be "condemned and banned," but that they "shouldn't be a reason for refuting the whole (one child) policy".

Officials at Zhenping county hospital, where the abortion allegedly took place, refused comment when repeatedly contacted by AFP.


Seven-month-pregnant woman forced to abort

This is not the first time China's family planning policy has been implemented to its extreme, but the news that a seven-months-pregnant woman was forced to abort her baby has still shocked the public.

In Zhenping county, Shaanxi province, a news item popped up on the local government family-planning centre's website to show off their achievement.
Feng Jianmei was seven-months pregnant with a second child after giveing birth to a girl in 2007, "after the repeated talks to convince her to give up the baby by our local government cadres, Feng finally agreed to abort the baby," reads the centre's website.

The One Child Policy was established in 1979. It is enforced strictly in cities, but has many exception.
In a lot of rural areas, couples are allowed to have two children, ethnic minorities are also given permission to have two or more children.
In 2007, China's national population and family planning commission of China estimated that 35.9 per cent of the population are allowed one child, 52.9 per cent of the population are allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl, this is usually the situation in rural China.

In this case, Feng Jianmei was married into the rural family but still kept her city residential permit. Therefore it's against the law for her to have a second baby.
In principle, Beijing has been trying to move away from brutal enforcement of the law by banning forced abortion and sterilizations, and also implementing a heavy fine policy.
But in reality, the abuses of women continue, with local officials told to meet difficult birth targets and central government only caring about the numbers.

The news has caused much debate in the media, with some calling for a reform in the policy while others remain supportive of the government.
The English language Global Times, a government-backed newspaper, recognises that the termination of late-term pregnancies should be condemned, but maintains that the policy shouldn't be refuted, as it has "freed China from the burden of an extra 400 million people".

Forced abortion is not the only problem with the one-child policy.
With families who have money, huge sums are charged if they decide to have a second child.
Earlier this year, a couple from Zhejiang province paid more than $200,000 for a fine to have their second child. Some choose to give birth in Hong Kong or the US, countries where a child would be given citizenship after birth to escape the fine.

More than 40,000 people posted comments to discuss the news on, one of China's biggest online portals. Here are some interesting ones:

"Seven months is a small life already, these family planning people should be charged with murder."
"Having more children means a better hope to solve social welfare problem that will emerge soon. In 30 years time, a single-child couple will have to support 4-12 parents, grandparents, how can they afford to do that?"

"This woman created the problem herself, she should have followed the rules, a country has to have its laws, it's her responsibility to not break the law."

"These rural families don't have the resources to bring up kids and give them eduction, why do they have to have all these children, it's a waste of resource."

"What we've been doing is just to spare more living space and resources for foreigners who seem to be better than us."



Invisible Red Thread said...

Hello Michelle!

If you're interested in Chinese One Child's Policy and in blogging, check out our documentary!

Let us know what you think!

Jamie Cooke said...

Do you know if there is a way to either send money to these families or adopt these kids before it's too late? If not, I am sure it can be done!!??

Unknown said...

Jamie Cooke: The Chinese government isn't planning to modify the one-child policy in China. Thus, this causes a lot of social problems such as gender imbalance between men and women. Majority of Chinese families prefer to have baby boys who will carry their family names to the next generation. To your question, I believe, if the Chinese government allows every family to have two children then, this problem can be easily solved. It will give the opportunity for every family to have a baby boy and a baby girl rather than killing baby girls due to one-child policy.

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