(Photo: REUTERS/Andy Wong/ Pool)
First Lady Michelle Obama has been criticized by a women's rights group for failing to speak out during her week-long visit to China against forced abortions and human rights abuses.
"I am extremely disappointed that Mrs. Obama has deliberately ignored egregious women's rights abuses while in China," said Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, on Wednesday. "Mrs. Obama has positioned herself as an international women's leader. She could have done so much good if she had been willing to use her position to advance women's rights in a nation that tramples them.
"Mrs. Obama has chosen to ignore the intense suffering of hundreds of millions of women who have been victims of forced abortion, involuntary sterilization, gendercide and sexual slavery."
Obama's March 19-26 trip to China with daughters Malia and Sasha, has been praised by political pundits for raising important issues in a soft manner rather than a rebuking tone. Obama reportedly spoke on promoting education, empowering young people, Internet access, religious freedom and minority rights during her trip.
"Many decades ago, there were actually laws in America that allowed discrimination against black people like me, who are a minority in the United States," Obama said at a speech at a Chengdu high school on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. "But over time, ordinary citizens decided that those laws were unfair. So they held peaceful protests and marches."
Though Obama received some praise for her soft approach, Littlejohn felt the First Lady should have done more, especially in addressing women's issues.
Littlejohn argued that Obama could have followed the example of Hillary Clinton in 1995 when she spoke out against forced abortion and gendercide at the Fourth Women's Conference in Beijing.
"As the mother of two children, Mrs. Obama could have spoken out against forced abortion under the One Child Policy. As the mother of two daughters, she could have taken aim also against gendercide – the sex-selective abortion of baby girls," Littlejohn asserted.
"She could have comforted the grieving family of Ms. Cao Shunli, a respected human rights activist who died weeks ago after having been denied medical treatment. As the wife of a Nobel Peace Prize winner, she could have visited Liu Xia, wife of jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo."
Last year, China landed on the U.S. Department of State's worst offenders category in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons report. Littlejohn applauded the report, pointing out that China's One Child Policy has created a dangerous gender imbalance, which in turn has led to sex trafficking.
"We particularly affirm the connection the TIP report draws between the One Child Policy and human trafficking. The One Child Policy is a major driving force behind sexual slavery, not only within China, but from surrounding countries as well," Littlejohn told The Christian Post at the time. Her group, WRWF, says that there are an estimated 37 million more men than women in China today.
"This gender imbalance is in turn driving sexual slavery. Young women and girls are trafficked within China and from surrounding countries to serve as sex slaves and forced brides," she added.