A photo of a Chinese woman, Feng Jianmei, and the bloody body of her 7-month-old fetus has outraged web users in China. Feng was forced to have an abortion because she was unable to pay a fine for having a second child. Her husband, Deng Jiyuan, said that she was arrested and forcibly taken to the hospital by 20 people, some of whom beat her, then injected her with an “agent” and restrained her during the procedure. 36 hours later the child was stillborn.
An image of Feng and her stillborn baby can be seen on the website of All Girls Allowed, a US-based activist group.
As the BBC‘s Jon Sudworth says, while “such allegations are nothing new in China,” the circulation of the photo has caused a huge uproar.
China’s one-child policy was passed in 1979 — the country’s population is currently about 1.3 billion – and is still enforced strictly in cities. In rural areas, families can have a second child if the first was a girl, but must pay a stiff fine. According to Al Jazeera, Feng had married into a rural family in Shaanxi province but kept her city residence permit so it was against the law for her to have a second child.
Unnamed local officials in Zhenping County have denied forcing Feng to have the abortion. Al Jazeera says that the local government family-planning centre’s website did refer to her case in a news item, trumpeting that “after the repeated talks to convince her to give up the baby by our local government cadres, Feng finally agreed to abort the baby.”
Authorities in Shaanxi province with its Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission are now investigating the incident. An official at the National Population and Family Planning Commission has told Al Jazeera that Feng’s forced abortion is being treated as “serious and important” and being addressed at the “top level.”
Activist Chen Guangfeng, who recently left China for the US after escaping from house arrest, was imprisoned after revealing that hundreds of women had endured forced abortions.
About 40,000 comments have been posted on China’s Sina.com forum. While some criticized Feng (“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”), others expressed shock. “Seven months is a small life already, these family planning people should be charged with murder,” wrote one commenter while another said on netease.com that “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.”