The husband of a Chinese woman whose forced abortion seven months into her pregnancy caused uproar has disappeared, a relative said Tuesday, adding her family is being harassed on a daily basis.
Feng Jianmei had to go through the termination earlier this month in the northern province of Shaanxi because she failed to pay a hefty fine for exceeding China's strict "one-child" population control policy.
The case caused an outcry when photos emerged online of Feng lying in a hospital bed in Zhenping county next to her baby's bloody corpse, prompting an official probe that concluded action should be taken against the perpetrators.
But a relative said Tuesday that Feng's husband Deng Jiyuan had gone missing Sunday.
"The last time I saw him, he was with all of us and he said that some leader wanted to speak to him, so he left," the relative, who refused to be named or otherwise identified, told AFP.
"We haven't seen him again since, and we can't get through to his mobile."
Calls made to police and government in Zhenping, and to the higher-level Ankang city government, went unanswered.
State news agency Xinhua reported late Tuesday that several government officials in Zhenping had been "punished" for involvement in the forced abortion.
Xinhua said that an investigation had concluded that the termination had "violated her (Feng's) rights late in her pregnancy" and that the head of the family planning bureau had been removed from his post.
The relative added that since Sunday, scores of unidentified people had been harassing the family.
"On Sunday evening we decided to go home (from hospital) and a lot of people had gathered outside," the relative said. "They hung banners on a bridge and many people came and shouted that we were traitors. Now wherever we go people follow us."
Feng's family members have spoken to foreign media and the relative said the protest could be linked to these interviews. It was unclear who the protesters were, but online reports suggested they had been hired by local authorities.
"If this is not organised by the powers-that-be, how can people make banners on their own and carry them out to the street?" one web user wrote on Sina's popular microblog service.
China's family planning policy aims to control the world's largest national population, now swollen to 1.3 billion people.
Under the measure, urban families are generally allowed to have one child, while rural families can give birth to two children if the first is a girl. Parents have to pay a fine if they contravene the rules.
Rights groups say that as a result of the policy thousands of women have been forced by authorities to terminate their pregnancies.