China’s centralized authoritarian regimes may have gone one step too far in attempting to get one woman, Jianmei Feng, a resident of the province of Shaanxi, to adhere to their “one child policy”. Local officials enforced the policy by forcing Jianmei to have an abortion. Unfortunately for China, the photos of the aborted fetus were captured by Feng’s family and posted to the Internet where they were subsequently spread and turned viral.
While the horrendous vision of what happened to Jianmei Feng is something that cannot be undone, this is an example of social media being used to create real world change. After an unheard of apology and an investigation into the Shaanxi province officials where the incident occurred, the Chinese government fired several of the officials involved. Feng’s husband attempted to pursue legal appeals but was awarded a package of $11,000 in compensation in order to drop the charges.
The “one child policy” was implemented in 1978 in an effort to curb population growth, and since then, millions of women have reportedly been forced to abort their children.
While each government in the world maintains their own laws and regulations, it is always interesting to see how a viral image can affect practices that many condemn as inhumane.