Why Feminists Should Support Chen Guangcheng

What if you were expecting your second child but the state authorities forced you to have an abortion against your will? The concept of violent state interference against a woman’s maternal choice is abhorrent to those living in countries where individual liberty encompasses a right to bear life. Yet, forced abortions, are happening on a wide scale in China under the country’s ‘One Child’ policy and this is where the story of Chen Guangcheng comes in.

Chen is a blind lawyer who has been making the news ever since 2005 when he exposed the forced abortion practices that were taking place in a Chinese city called Linyi, situated in the province of Shandong. He launched a class action against the state authorities in Linyi. The Chinese government is relentless and ruthless in its’ pursuit of those who dare to question its’ authority and, consequently, Chen was jailed for four years in 2006 and has been under house arrest since 2010.

Chen, his wife and child have been under police guard 24 hours a day. Chen and his wife have frequently been beaten up by the enforcement agents whom the Western media refer to as ‘thugs’. Two weeks ago Chen managed to escape in a 10 second window when there was change over of guard duty. He went to the US Embassy for protection and then subsequently left of his ‘own will’. Yesterday, he issued a statement asking that he be allowed to leave China with his wife and child immediately. Chen has also spoken to US Congress who were debating his case. He says that he is very scared and that his rights and safety can never be assured in China.

Chen deserves the support of feminists everywhere for his bold and brave stance against forced abortions because it weaves the pro-choice and pro-life debate by being both anti-choice and anti-life all at once.

The ‘One Child’ policy was implemented by China in 1978 and is scheduled to run till 2015. The title of the policy literally tells you what it is about-that every family is only allowed to have one child. It is a policy that masks a murderous multitude of sins when unpacked and analysed according to the concepts of human liberty and individual rights. It is a twin evil because not only does it deprive a woman of fulfilling her biological destiny if she chooses to do so BUT it also encourages sex selection through which Gendercide is practised.

Gendercide is the practice of aborting baby girls and happens mainly in Asian countries where a premium is placed on males and a metaphorical curse is placed on females for being the weaker sex. Through state intervention which forces families to have one child, backward social and cultural practices drive families to opt for boys. Women who are pregnant for the first time opt for a sex identification scan and make a ‘choice’ (sometimes forced upon them by their family)thereafter. Gendercide is a whole evil in itself against the female population.

Testimonials of women who have suffered from having to undergo forced abortions in China can be found in Chen’s report as carried by ‘Womensrightwithoutfrontiers.org’. Here is an extract:
February 19, 2005. Where: Xiajiagou Village, Liangqiu Town, Linyi County
Source: Teng Biao, recorded August 20, 2005

Zhongxia Fang is a villager from Xiagou Village, Liangqiu Town, Fei City, Linyi
County. The first time I [Teng Biao] met her was in Duozhuang, Mengyin County,when
four people from Fei City came to report. More than twenty people guarded the village
where Chen Guangcheng lived. We [Teng Biao and another lawyer] walked through the
footpaths between fields and crossed Meng River to escape their monitor and assembled
in Fei County.

Zhongxia told us her story briefly. She had repeated it many times:
“The Family Planning Officials inserted an intrauterine device in me after I
gave birth to two daughters. I worked in another city since then and didn’t go to
the Family Planning Office for the pregnancy check. But I was pregnant
accidently again. The Family Planning Officials said I was in violation of the
“Population and Family Planning Law of the Peoples Republic of China” and
looked for me all around. On the lunar calendar November 9, 2004, they had a
conversation with my mother and asked her to pay a deposit of 1,000 Yuan
[$157]. My mother hid after that.

“Two months later, they found my mother-in-law. They seized her and smashed
her belongings. She was seized and released altogether three times. They did the
same to my third elder brother’s wife. On February 19, 2005, they seized my
elder sister’s husband (Yongjun Hu, from Beiyan Village, west of Liangqiu
Town). He was detained in the town Family Planning Office for a whole week
and beaten twenty-seven times. Later they seized my nephew (Qiang Li, 27
years old), his wife and his child Ranran (one year old). My nephew was beaten
fourteen times. His toenail was trod down by a Family Planning Official’s
leather shoes. After that they seized my uncle’s wife (Shaoxiang Zhu, from the
same village as I) and my husband’s younger sister (she comes from another

“They seized all my relatives they could find. On March, 2005, they seized my
younger sister Zhongyan Fang (pregnant with her first child for three months).
Seven or eight Family Planning Officials pushed her into a car and detained her
for a whole day. They set her free after she paid 1,000 Yuan. My younger
sister’s mother-in-law was also seized for a whole week. They didn’t give her
anything to eat or drink. She was released after she paid 1,500 as so-called
“tuition fee” [a fee for the cost of detention].

“My younger sister’s father-in-law was detained when he went there to send
food to his wife. He was beaten by six or seven people in the Family Planning
office. He ran out after one day’s detention. Then my husband’s nephew, my
third aunt and her husband (Kaifeng Liu) as well as her granddaughter (not even
four years old), my fourth aunt (Deying Xue), my uncle’s wife were all seized.
My uncle’s wife was beaten in the car with rubber sticks all the way to the
Family Planning Office. They stamped on her with leather shoes. She lost
consciousness several times. Her kidney was so injured that she couldn’t do any
manual work until now (proven by the medical record prescribed by expert from
people’s hospital of Fei county). They also seized my fifth elder brother’s
wife’s younger sister (Xuelan Guo) and my third elder brother’s wife’s younger
sister (Yufeng Chai).

My third aunt’s husband phoned me: “If you don’t come back, your aunt will
be beaten to death.” I was forced to go back on 31st, March. I was already
pregnant for seven months at that time and was forced to inject an oxytocic
drug. My baby was aborted one day later. I had ligation at 9:00 in the morning
of April 13, 2005. They let my aunt go after that.

This is why Chen deserves the support of feminists everywhere.


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