Will China end its forced abortions?
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng made international headlines last year when he escaped house arrest, foiling guards and security cameras around his home in rural China, to flee to Beijing where he took refuge in the U.S. embassy. He was eventually given permission to go to the United States to study.
But before his dramatic escape, Chen, one of China’s best-known human rights icons, came to national prominence in 2005 when he accused officials in his home province, Shandong, of forcing pregnant women to undergo late-term abortions to comply with China’s strict family-planning policies.
Chen’s whistleblowing initially prompted the government to sack and detain several officials. However, he was later jailed for four years on what he and his supporters contend were trumped-up charges designed to end his rights advocacy.
Chen was formally released in 2010 but had been under virtual house arrest since September 2011.
On a visit to London last week, Chen, who lost his sight as a child, spoke to Thomson Reuters Foundation.
He said he expected Beijing to drop its much criticised one-child policy in the near future and expressed hope of an end to the forced abortions and sterilisations he said were inflicted on many Chinese women.
“Women’s rights are like any other rights. Facing abuses, we need to defend our rights with resolve. We shouldn’t keep silent about rights violations,” Chen told us.
“For such a long time, the notion that a human life is of greater value than everything else has been neglected.”
For the full interview, click here.
Photo caption: Xiao Hong, a young Chinese surrogate mother who said she was forced into an abortion by district family planning officers in Guangzhou, displays the scar on her pregnant abdomen where she said she was injected with a drug February 28, 2009. REUTERS/James Pomfret