November 28, 2011 ( – The United Nations observed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, 2011, but while statements about the event mentioned several specific forms of violence against women, the UN failed to mention violence against women in the form of coerced abortions.


“Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is widespread throughout the globe.  It includes rape, domestic violence, harassment at work, abuse in school, female genital mutilation and sexual violence in armed conflicts,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an official statement.  He made similar statements at an event in New York marking the occasion.

Joseph Meaney, director of international coordination for Human Life International (HLI), believes that the UN and other international organizations should focus more on the “most serious threat” against women today – China’s one child policy.

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“One thing that is very rarely mentioned, but is actually the largest single violation of human rights of women around the world today is the one child policy in China,” Meaney recently told Vatican Radio. “The government there has boasted that they have eliminated 400 million children, and most of that was by forcing women to have abortions.”

“This is really a form of torture against women … and it is an egregious violation of women’s rights that is ongoing,” said Meaney.

Meaney said that many international organizations fail to address the problem of coerced abortion not only in China, but around the world.

“It seems like there is something of a double standard because a lot of organizations like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, etc. will say, ‘Oh yeah, coercion in abortion is a bad thing,’ but then they really won’t focus on it. Instead, they will bring up other issues, which may be valid, but don’t affect hundreds of millions of women the way this does,” Meaney said.

“There are organizations that have done studies and found that the majority of women in countries where abortion is legal but not forced … say they had an abortion because they were coerced into doing so either through their boyfriends, husbands or parents, or even sometimes the medical community,” Meaney said during the interview. “Planned Parenthood itself has been accused of collaborating with forced abortions of minors who didn’t want to have those abortions but their parents brought them there anyway.”

“So it’s true that there is actually a whole level of coercion even in countries where it’s not state-sponsored,” according to Meaney.

The Catholic Church and Christian pro-life groups in particular have been extremely influential in bringing attention to all forms of violence against women, according to Meaney, and have been instrumental in providing education on the issues, and support for victims of violence.

“There’s a huge amount of work … to end domestic violence which is an enormous problem throughout the world, and the Church is very strong in its position that violence should not be part of a marriage, and that this is unacceptable activity. Unfortunately many cultures accept this as a kind of a rule of life that if a husband beats up on a wife there’s no real problem there.

“The Church has stood up and written about this, and has also provided many services to help women who are involved in violence within the home,” he said.

Meaney believes that the Catholic Church and pro-life organizations around the world must continue to pressure international groups like the UN to focus on taking action against coerced abortion, especially in China.

“I think one of the areas that would be important to collaborate in is simply to kind of shame these international organizations to end up paying more attention to things that they also acknowledge are human rights violations,” said Meaney. “The coerced abortions in China are an example; the forced sterilizations that take place in some countries are another example.”

“I think there’s a certain amount of, if you point to the problem long enough, we can get these international organizations to pay more attention to it,” he said.

The UN says it plans to focus on “youth leadership” and engaging young people in its campaign to end violence against women.

“I urge Governments and partners around the world to harness the energy, ideas and leadership of young people to help us to end this pandemic of violence. Only then will we have a more just, peaceful and equitable world,” the UN Secretary-General said.

Reprinted with permission from