LifeSite News A Chinese woman imprisoned for activism against China’s restrictive one-child rule is a victim of inhuman torture in prison, according to a civil rights organization.

According to the New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) report, Mao Hengfeng was fired from her job at a Shanghai soap factory in 1988, after becoming pregnant with her second child, in contravention of China’s one-child policy. Her managers at the factory tried to force her to have an abortion — when she resisted they bound her and took her to a psychiatric hospital, where she was forcibly admitted and injected with abortifacient medication. Mao managed to retain her pregnancy and give birth to the child, but the factory dismissed her from her job.

Mao Hengfeng appealed to the Shanghai municipal labour arbitration committee, which ruled that Mao’s dismissal was in contravention of the labour law and ordered that she be reinstated. The factory management disputed the ruling and appealed to the Shanghai Yangpu District Court.

At the time of the court hearing, Mao was seven months pregnant with her third child. The trial judge told Mao, “If you go and have an abortion, I’ll rule in your favour.” Mao accordingly had an abortion against her wishes, suffering severe hemorrhaging afterward, but in the end the court ruled that because Mao had contravened China’s family planning policy, the factory had a right to dismiss her.

As a result of her experience, Mao embarked on a 15-year struggle for her right to work and other basic rights. During the course of numerous petitions, she was frequently detained and on several occasions, forcibly committed to psychiatric institutions. In the psychiatric hospitals, she was treated in a brutal and humiliating fashion and forced to undergo electro-shock therapy.

Mao’s further appeals to Beijing have resulted in her being detained by police and forced to return to Shanghai. HRIC’s sources report that Mao’s daughters, who are under 16, have also been detained and questioned about who has been assisting their mother’s protests.

Because of her refusal to give up petitioning, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau in April 2004 sentenced her to 18 months of “re-education through labour.” According to HRIC’s sources, while in detention, Mao has been bound hand and foot and suspended in mid-air, and has been subjected to severe beatings to her limbs and abdomen. In addition, police are alleged to have assigned two criminals to monitor her activities in detention.

“Mao Hengfeng has every right to protest and appeal against China’s coercive family planning policies,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “We deplore the official suppression of Mao Hengfeng’s constitutional right to petition the authorities. We even more strongly protest any retributive action taken against her underage daughters, which could put Chinese authorities in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that China ratified in 1992. Mao Hengfeng should be released from detention, and she and her daughters should be subjected to no further harassment.”