Mao Hengfeng and her daughters © PrivateMarch 8th is the annual International Women’s Day. This year’s UN theme is “Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls.” I had volunteered to table with my Amnesty group at a local event today but my significant other got sick so I stayed home. I did, however, forwarded to my fellow Amnesty member a petition (PDF file) for Mao Hengfeng who was sentenced to two and a half years in prison this past December.

Mao’s story is a demonstration of courage against China’s One Child Policy which leads to forced abortion and sterilization of women. A mother of twin girls, Mao got pregnant with her third child and she refused to have an abortion. She was forced into a psychiatric hospital where she was injected with various drugs. She gave birth against all odds but she was dismissed from her job for missing 16 days of work. Although she won an appeal under China’s labor law and got reinstated to her job, her employer appealed the ruling. Mao was pregnant with her fourth child during the appeal and the judge told her that he would rule in her favor if she terminated this third pregnancy. Mao terminated her pregnancy against her wishes but the court ruled against her anyway. Since then, she has been actively petitioning to the authorities about family planning and housing issues. She was sent to re-education through labor in 2004 and experienced torture and abuse during numerous detentions and in RTL camp.

The last draw came when the police detained her in May 2006 and placed her under “soft detention” at a guesthouse in Shanghai where she was beaten. She broke two table lamps in protest of her treatment. The authorities took advantage of the situation and sentenced her to prison under the charge of “intentionally destroying property.” AI raised her status to prisoner of conscience and posted an appeal for her release.

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