Chinese Government’s Apology to Feng Jianmei is not Enough! WGNRR Statement on Forced Abortion in China

Last month, a Chinese woman named Feng Jianmei’s photo lying on a hospital bed with her forcibly aborted foetus went viral on the internet. The photo enraged the Chinese population and spurred online debate on China’s one-child policy.  

Feng who was seven-month pregnant and already have a 5-year old daughter, recounted in an interview with a local media that on June 2 that she was dragged into a vehicle blindfolded, legs beaten and was taken to a hospital for the injections that induced the abortion. She also said that she was forced to sign a document while blindfolded.

Under China's one-child policy, parents with extra children can be fined, depending on the region, from $370 to $12,800. Because Feng didn't have to money to pay for the fine, the local family planning authority in Shannxi province took her to the hospital for the forced abortion.

In response to local and international pressure, China government issued an apology to Feng, suspended three personnel and the Shaanxi Provincial Family Planning Committee has conducted a full-blown investigation of the incident because the report has “ '...damaged the image of family planning work, and had an adverse effect on the society. [....]' " [1].

China is the world's largest population at 1.3 billion people. One-child policy is the measure of the Chinese government to curb the population growth in the country that resulted in number of social issues, including a rapidly aging population and an alarming decrease in the number of women in the country due to female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, son preference and forced abortion and sterilisation. 

Forced abortion and sterilisation is a human rights violation. China is accountable to its obligations to the international standards that its State is party to. China is a signatory and has ratified international instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Cairo and Beijing Platform for Action, which established that any form of coercive policies and practices related to reproductive health is a violation of fundamental human rights.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee in its General Comment No. 28, regarding ICCPR Article 3 on Equality of Rights Between Men and Women, which China is a party to states that, “the States parties should also provide the Committee with information on measures to prevent forced abortion or forced sterilization.”[2] The Committe also refers that “[an] area where States may fail to respect women’s privacy relates to their reproductive functions, for example, where […] general requirements are imposed for the sterilization of women, such as having a certain number of children or being of a certain age […]”[3]

The Chinese Government is accountable to what happened to Feng and thousands other women victims of forced abortion and sterilisation. China is called to address the human rights violation and ensure that incidents like this should never happen again.

Chinese Government should not only apologise to Feng but should also take necessary measures to reform its policies that promote female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, son preference and forced abortion and sterilisation. We also therefore, we urge the Chinese government to lift their one-child policy and to take necessary measures to ensure fulfilment its international duties in relation to access to reproductive health, including informed access to safe abortion, in accordance with the international treaties and human rights standards, as well Cairo and Beijing Conferences and Action Plans. 

The Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights is a southern-based global network that builds and strengthens movements to realise the full sexual and reproductive health and rights and justice of all people. Our work is grounded in the realities of those who most lack economic, social and political power.




[2] Human Rights Committe, General Comment No. 28: Equality of rights between men and women (article 3),CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10, 29 March 2000, parr. 11.

[3] Ibid, parr. 20.