All Girls Allowed urges the U.N. to investigate acts of violence against pregnant women that occur regularly under China’s one-child policy.
The organization filed a joint formal complaint requesting that the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) include forced sterilization and forced abortion on its agenda for its next annual meeting in March. The meeting’s topic is “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Chai Ling said that any discussion of government-enabled violence against women must include the topic of China’s one-child policy. “During forced sterilizations and abortions, women are dragged into clinics against their will for invasive operations they do not want,” said Ling. “These are unquestionably acts of violence against women. They are also unquestionably the result of China’s coercive family planning policy.”
In 1995, China signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on women’s rights, and thereby promised not to promote policies that lead to forced abortion. The Declaration names forced abortion on a shortlist of “grave violations of the human rights of women” and also condemns “forced sterilization, coercive/forced use of contraceptives, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection.” In enforcing the one-child policy, China is openly flouting its commitment to protecting the rights of women.
A raging debate over the one-child policy continues on China’s social media platforms, where new women are stepping forward with stories of family planning abuses. Last week the China Daily, a state-run paper, published a front-page story on the struggles of families who have only one child. (The government has now agreed to start providing financial support to older couples who have lost their only child.) “It is a step in the right direction,” said Chai Ling. “But only the repeal of the policy will spare more young mothers from fearing acts of violence.”
Zhang Wenfang (L), forcibly sterilized in 2008, and Feng Jianmei (R), who underwent a forced abortion in June, are among the cases submitted to the U.N.
Just this month, a Chinese woman who was pregnant without a permit died in childbirth. Even though she needed treatment, she refused to go to the hospital for the birth because she was afraid that family planning officials would forcibly abort her baby. “Stories like this show us why the U.N. needs to act and call upon China to reconsider its one-child policy,” said Ling. “It’s urgent. No woman should have to fear entering a hospital for the birth of her child.”
The full text of the complaint, edited by Samuel Casey of the Law of Life Project, can be found here:
“Communication/Complaint by the Coalition to End Violence Against Pregnant Women to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.”
 Ibid. Chapter 4, Section C, Number 115.