A secular men's magazine has praised Chinese anti-abortion advocate Chen Guangcheng in its December 2012 issue, placing him on the list of “Man of the Year.”
Gentleman's Quarterly, the popular men's entertainment and fashion magazine, lauded the blind activist for his fight against forced abortions and sterilizations in China, calling him a “humanitarian cause célèbre.”
Despite its usual fare of risqué photo spreads and articles, the latest issue features a three-page interview detailing Chen's house arrest, torture and eventual escape to the United States in May 2012.
Blinded by a serious illness when he was young, Chen is a self-educated human rights attorney who spoke out against China's one-child policy and the coerced abortions and sterilizations that are often used to enforce it. His work attracted the anger of Chinese authorities.
Chen spent more than four years in prison and was subsequently placed under house arrest in September 2010. Both he and his family were held without formal charges, endured violent assaults and were refused medical treatment.
Chen's routine beatings “went on for a year and a half, all because the self-taught lawyer had sued the Chinese government to stop forced abortions in his village,” John B. Thompson of GQ wrote for the December issue.
In late April, Chen made international headlines by escaping from house arrest and reaching the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
He left the embassy for a hospital in Beijing on May 2, after being promised by Chinese authorities that he and his family would be secure. Shortly afterwards, however, he voiced fears for his safety and asked to come to the U.S. with his family for a period of peaceful rest.
Although he felt “sorrowful” to leave his country, Chen believes that he will “inevitably return to China, standing tall.”
“I don’t think China can continue like this forever,” he told GQ.
Chen was offered a fellowship to study law and learn English at New York University’s law school and was ultimately allowed to travel to the United States with his family, arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 19.
On Aug. 1, bipartisan leaders of U.S. Congress came together to meet with and offer their support of the Chen and his work in China.
While politicians “might not agree” about which rights he is fighting to protect, Chen told GQ that his work opposing China’s one-child policy is not only a fight to protect the “rights of unborn children” or of women, but of all people.
“Men have rights. The elderly have rights,” he said. “This is a human problem, a fundamental concept.”