Mao Henfeng

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  • Post category:China

Name: Mao Henfeng

Country: China

Date of Birth: 9th December 1961

Education: —

Type of Business: Women and Human Rights activists in the People’s Republic of China.

Main Achievements: Mao has stood robust against China’s one-child-policy and today protects the rights of the women crushed under these regulations.

Something interesting About the Person: In 2004, a committee on International Relations met to examine and hear the case of Mao Henfeng. It was accepted that Mao Henfeng was subjected to intense torture and mistreatment and was refused basic medicines. This meeting took place when the 108th Congress had adjourned, and the 109th had yet to take office.


The plight of one can become the salvation of the others. This is especially true in the case of the struggler and survivor, Mao Henfeng. She was born on the 9th of December 1961 in the people’s republic of China. China’s family planning policy became the major trigger of Mao’s life-long toil. Mao, a mother of twins, was working in a Shanghai soap factory. In 1988, she became pregnant for the second time. She was asked to abort her pregnancy following the regulations. However, Mao straightly refused. As a consequence, she was held up in a psychiatric hospital called an “asking”.  Mao delivered a healthy baby on Feb 28, 1989, and just a month later, on March 20, she was notified that the factory expelled her due to 16 days of absence from work. This incidence struck as a calamity in addition to the post-delivery ill-health issues and tribulations in the psychiatric hospital. 

Mao now decided to fight for her rights. She filed a petition against her job detainment under China’s labor law. The court ruled in her favor and was re-administered to her job. However, the Shanghai soap factory did not accept the ruling and appealed against it.

Till 2004, Mao repeatedly filed complaints and petitions for falsely dismissing her from her job and against the court’s decision, but all in vain. The courts either refused to aid her or didn’t even file a case for her. Mao was taken into RTL (re-education through labor) from 2004-2005. RTL is a type of imprisonment in Chinese law, intended for minor crimes. This time her crime was protesting against abuse and negligence towards her basic human rights. Moreover, her financial support from the state was cut down, leaving her in emotional as well as financial turmoil.  

She also served two further years in Shanghai’s women’s prison for “intentional harm to property.” She became a means to advocate for other people, especially women. Mao has stood up for people who have been wrongly convicted or those who were facing forced imprisonment, especially in the Shanxi province and Shanghai. Because of her uncrippled effort, even the authorities in Shanghai have classified her as one of the most persevere petitioners of the city. 

She is also supporting and fighting in courts for people in forced ranking and those detained in RTL. She also considers China’s family planning regulations absurd due to which she faced numerous havoc. She protects those women who are under constant threat due to this policy and those seeking redress. Mao Henfeng has also faced another RTL for support of Liu Xiaobo. He was a Chinese human rights activist and a Nobel Prize laureate, who protested to bring out political reforms and was against the communist one-party rule in China. Mao’s peaceful strike was altered and turned into a massive order-derailing protest. This time she was released soon, and the public was immensely happy but only for Mao to be arrested again. 

During her arrest, she was subjected to all the worst kinds of torture. The medical reports after her release showed that she had bled in her brain and was brought home in a state of unconsciousness. Seeing her worsening condition, despite her peaceful efforts, Amnesty International interfered. This human rights defender was finally released in 2013 and is now serving time in her home.