China’s Coercive Population Control: WRWF Files Complaint Against China

Here is the text of the Complaint against China concerning coercive population control, filed today by Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

To the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW):

I am the founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a non-profit, non-partisan international coalition to combat forced abortion, gendercide and sexual slavery in China.  I write to complain about coercive family planning in China and to call for an investigation into UNFPA, which has been working hand in hand with the Chinese Communist population control apparatus for 30 years.

As you know, WRWF submitted a Complaint this time last year.  While the UNCSW acknowledged receipt of this Complaint, China never responded to it.  We believe that, given the international outrage generated by the case of Feng Jianmei, it behooves China to respond to our 2012 Complaint.

By way of introduction, please watch this four-minute video about forced abortion in China and our work to expose this egregious violation of human rights:

Stop Forced Abortion – China’s War on Women!

Here is the link to our international petition to stop forced abortion in China.  As of today, we have more than 20,200 signatures from approximately 90 countries.

The One Child Policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth. It is China’s war on women.   Any discussion of women’s rights, or human rights, would be a charade if forced abortion in China is not front and center.  It does not matter whether you are pro-life or pro-choice on this issue.  No one supports forced abortion, because it is not a choice.

This violence became increasingly evident in 2012, giving rise to both international and domestic criticism of the One Child Policy.  Here are some of the cases of forced abortion or sterilization that have arisen just this year.

Linyi City, Shandong Province. March 2012.  A photo of a forcibly aborted full term baby drowned in a bucket, submitted anonymously, circulated on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, and in the West.  The infant reportedly cried at birth, but was drowned in a bucket by family planning personnel.[1] Blind activist Chen Guangcheng comes from Linyi and was still under house arrest at the time news of this forced abortion broke. This incident demonstrates that forced abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy still occurs in Linyi, as first disclosed by Chen in his report of 2005.[2]

Huangqiao Town, Jishui County, Jiangxi Province. March 2012.  On the eve of the U.S. – China Human Rights Dialogue, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers learned that a 46-year-old woman was forcibly sterilized, in retaliation for bringing a petition. The woman posted the following account on the internet:

On March 14, my husband was being escorted back from making a petition.  To retaliate for his petition, the town government sent more than 20 strong men.  I could no longer give birth to a child at that time, but they still dragged my legs, treated me like an animal, and forcibly performed a tubal ligation on the operating table of the Family Planning Office.  Guoqing Luo (the Deputy Town Secretary) also exclaimed, “The Government takes the consequences!  The Government has the money!”[3]

Cao Ruyi, Changsha City, Hunan Province. June 2012 and ongoing.  Five months pregnant, Cao Ruyi was detained by Family Planning Officials, who beat her husband and attempted to forcibly abort her.  They demanded that she pay the Chinese equivalent of approximately $24,000, or face forced abortion.  Because of international pressure, this amount was reduced and Cao was allowed to leave the hospital, but she remains in jeopardy.  Jing Zhang, President of Women’s Rights in China, has arranged for Cao Ruyi and her husband to remain in hiding until their baby is born.[4]

Feng Jianmei, Ankang City, Shaanxi Province. June 2, 2012.  Breaking within days of the case of Cao Ruyi, Feng Jianmei was forcibly aborted at seven months when she and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, could not pay a 40,000 yuan fine ($6300). Officials tried to force Feng into a car, but she escaped to her aunt’s house.  They broke through the gate, so she fled to the mountains, where officials found her hiding under a bed.  Her husband told The Economist, “They laughed when they found her.”[5] After forcibly aborting her baby, officials laid the bloody body of her dead daughter next to her in the bed.  The story and photograph, which WRWF broke to the west on June 12, 2012, immediately went viral, sent shockwaves around the world, and ignited a firestorm of outrage.[6]

In the aftermath, the local Ankang City government apologized, several officials were given administrative demerits, and one reportedly was terminated. The sincerity of these gestures, however, is questionable, given the fact that at the same time, protests were organized outside Feng’s family home.  Protesters carried a large banner reading “Beat the traitors, drive them from the town.”  According to local media reports, these protests were organized by local authorities, in retaliation for Deng’s interview with a German journalist.

Feng was held in the hospital for more than a month after her forced abortion.[7] Earlier, she had said that she was ready to leave the hospital and felt that remaining hospitalized weeks after the forced abortion felt like “prison.”[8] The Chinese government provided her with cash for her late-term abortion, but this will not compensate for the trauma of forced late-term abortion.

Feng’s case has become symbolic of the heinous human rights abuses suffered by the women of China at the hands of the Chinese Communist population control machine.  Feng’s forced abortion and the subsequent persecution of her family, however, have not been in vain.  Feng was specifically cited by the European Parliament in its resolution condemning coercive family planning.

Hu Jia, Jianli County, Hubei Province. June 19, 2012.  China’s Southern Metropolis Daily reported that Hu Jia was forcibly aborted at nearly eight months.  This case was reported by a major Chinese newspaper, indicating the growing discontent with the policy inside China and the courage of the Chinese news media to report it.[9]

Zhang Wen Fang, Hong Hu City, Hubei Province (2008) – Inspired by the outrage generated by the case of Feng Jianmei, Zhan Wen Fang stepped forward to report that she had been forcibly aborted at nine months in 2008.  Along with her baby, family planning officials removed her uterus, cervix and one ovary.  Previously a successful business owner, she is now confined to a wheelchair and dependant on her aging mother.  She states that her older child is “like an orphan,” without much support from her.  She came forward stating, “I would like to ensure that no more families ever have to go through what I have been through, to be butchered like this.”[10]

Pressure builds in Europe and the United States

This spate of barbaric cases has focused criticism against coercive family planning in China.

European Parliament. In a striking blow against China’s One Child Policy, the European Parliament passed a resolution strongly condemning forced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China and globally, citing Feng Jianmei. Specifically, the resolution, 2012/2712 (RSP)  “strongly condemns the decision to force Ms. Feng to have an abortion and condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations globally, especially in the context of the one-child policy.”  The resolution further states that “the EU has provided, and still provides, funds for organizations involved in family planning policies in China,” and “urges the Commission to ensure that its funding of projects does not breach” the European Parliament’s commitment against coercive population control.

I have twice addressed the European Parliament on the One Child Policy, and I know how passionate the MEPs are, both from the pro-life and the pro-choice perspectives.[11] The fact that these forces were able to join together to condemn forced abortion is a masterpiece of coalition building.  As WRWF’s message has been from the beginning, whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, no one supports forced abortion, because it is not a choice.

Additionally, it is significant that the European Parliament has acknowledged that it provides funding for family planning in China, and urged the Commission to ensure that this funding is not associated with coercion.  For decades, the UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) have worked hand in hand with the Chinese population control machine, which is coercive.  They are funded by many nations, not only in Europe but the world over, including the United States.  I have no doubt that any unbiased investigation by the European Parliament or any other governmental body will reveal that these organizations are complicit with coercive family planning in China.

I hope that this courageous action by the European Parliament will serve as a model for governments all over the world, including the United States, to join the outcry against forced abortion in China — and to stop funding it.

U.S. State Department. On the domestic front, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, condemned forced abortion while expressing concern for the case of Cao Ruyi.  “We’ve seen the reports that a Chinese woman is being detained and possibly pressured into a forced abortion by Chinese family planning authorities after purportedly violating China’s one-child policy,” she told reporters during a press briefing in June. “We have reached out to the authorities in Beijing to ask about this issue.”  Nuland reiterated that the U.S. strongly opposes “all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies,” which they have deemed a serious human rights abuse. [12]

Center for Reproductive Rights. In an encouraging development, Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, referencing the case of Feng Jianmei and condemning forced abortion in China.[13] This was a courageous act on Northup’s part.  If NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW and the UNFPA truly stand for choice, they will join Northup in condemning forced abortion in China.  If they do not condemn forced abortion, they do not stand for choice.

Pressure Builds Within China

In the wake of these cases, it was reported that two brave groups within China have called for the reform or relinquishment of the One Child Policy.  According to the China Economic Times, several researchers in the Developmental Research Center – a prestigious, government-affiliated think tank — cited the coming demographic disaster caused by low birth rates combined with an ageing population as the reason for China to move to a two-child policy.  “The longer we wait, the more vulnerable we will be,” they stated.[14]

While I agree that China is facing a nearly-irreversible demographic disaster caused by the One Child Policy, I do not agree that instituting a two-child policy is the answer to the problems created by the One Child Policy.  First, a two-child policy encourages gendercide, the sex-selective abortion of baby girls.  In areas where couples can have a second child if the first is a girl, gendercide is rampant.  According to a 2009 study by the British Medical Journal, the average birth ratio in China is 120 boys for every hundred girls born.  But for second births, that number jumps to 143 boys for every hundred girls.  In two provinces, Jiangsu and Anhui, for the second child, there were 190 boys for every hundred girls born.[15]

The central issue in the One Child Policy, moreover, is not whether the government allows couples to have one or two children.  Rather, it is the coercion with which this limit is enforced.  Even with a two-child policy, women will still be subject to forced abortion if they get pregnant without a birth permit.

A second call for reform came from a prominent group of scholars who criticized the policy on the basis that it violates human rights and works against economic stability. Fifteen brave intellectuals signed an open letter urging that re-writing of family planning law was “imperative.” One of their leaders, well-known Internet entrepreneur James Liang, is calling for the abolition of the one-child rule.[16]

The Chinese forced abortion policy is systematic, institutionalized violence against women. This violence against women and girls takes the following six forms:

1)    Forced abortion is traumatic to women.   It is a form of torture.

2)    Women who have violated the policy are often forcibly sterilized.  Forced sterilization is a serious human rights abuse and can lead to life-long health complications.

3)    A document leaked out of China in November, 2009 discusses methods of infanticide, including the puncturing of the skulls and injecting alcohol into the brains of full term fetuses to kill them during labor.

4)    Because of the traditional preference for boys, sex-selective abortion is common and most of the aborted fetuses are girls, a form of “gendercide.”

5)    Because of this gendercide, there are 37 million more men than women in China today.   This gender imbalance is a major force driving sexual trafficking of women and girls in Asia.

6)    China has the highest female suicide rate of any country in the world.  It is the only nation in which more women than men kill themselves – approximately 500 women a day.  I believe that this high suicide rate is likely  related to coercive family planning.

The Chinese government would like the world to believe that ethnic minorities are exempt from the One Child Policy.  This is propaganda. Rebiya Kadeer has submitted into the Congressional Record a hard-hitting report on the genocidal use of the One Child Policy against the Uyghurs.

Not only are women oppressed, but so are those who try to defend them.  Blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng exposed the widespread and systematic use of forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations in Linyi County in 2005.  The Chinese Communist Party imprisoned Chen for four years and three months and has kept him and his family under strict house arrest since September, 2010.  Women’s Rights Without Frontiers led the international coalition to free Chen, who arrived in the United States on May 19, 2012.

Free Chen Guangcheng!  Video

I have attached several reports for your reference.   To read more than a dozen expert reports documenting the facts stated in this complaint, click here.

Concerning my background, please view my online biography here:

Here is a video in which Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, condemns coercive family planning in China:

Here is a seminal article about our work that appeared in the Washington Post:

Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, Interview of Reggie Littlejohn, “When Abortion Isn’t a Choice”

In addition, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers launched its website in Chinese.  This is the first ever comprehensive website dedicated to exposing the brutal truth about the One Child Policy, in Chinese. To visit the website, click here.

I hope to work with you to help end this extremely serious violation of the rights of women and girls in China.  Please let me know if you would like any more information.

Very truly yours,

Reggie Littlejohn, President

Women’s Rights Without Frontiers

[1] Kathleen Gilbert.  “Photo of a baby aborted in China at 9 months in forced abortion circulates on internet, sparks outrage.”  4/3/12

[2] Congressional-Executive Commission on China Hearing of December 6, 2011, releasing the Chen Guangcheng Report.

[3] Reggie Littlejohn.  “China:  46 Year Old Woman Forcibly Sterilized.”  7/23/12

[4] Jing Zhang. “China’s One Child Policy – Two Cases.”  American Spectator, 6/15/12.

[5] “The Brutal Truth:  A shocking case of forced abortion fuels resentment against China’s One Child Policy.”  6/23/12.

[6] Reggie Littlejohh, “BREAKING:  Chinese Woman Forcibly Aborted at Seven Months.”  6/12/12

[7] Father in China forced abortion case demands criminal prosecution, seeks compensation.  7/6/12

[8] Josh Chin.  Mom Cites Pressure in One-Child Saga.  6/28/12

[9] Patrick Burke.  “Another Forced Abortion Case Reported as Abuses Under China’s ‘One-Child’ Policy Get More Attention” 7/2/12

[10] “Chinese woman comes forward with forced abortion story” 7/3/12

[11] I am told that in 2008, I was the first person to address the European Parliament on the issue of the One Child Policy.  This 2008 address comprises the chapter on the One Child Policy in the book, “Human Rights in China After the Olympic Games,” currently available on

[12] Alexandra Ludka and Gloria Riviera.  “Forced Abortion in China Prompts Apology and Three Officials Suspended.” 6/15/12

[13] Nancy Northup.  Letter to the Editor, New York Times, “Forced Abortion in China,” 7/4/12.

[14] Josh Chin.  “Think Tank Calls China to Adjust One-Child Policy” 7/3/12

[15] Wei Xing Zhu, Li Lu and Therese Hesketh. (2009) BMJ:  China’s excess males, sex-selective abortion and one child policy:  analysis of data from 2005 national intercensus survey.

[16] Josh Chin.  Another High-Profile Call to Revisit China’s One-Child Rule, 7/5/12

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