Chinese officials arrested 10 women’s rights activists last weekend who were demonstrating in celebration of International Women’s Day. The women were hoping to raise awareness around sexual harassment on public transportation in China. Instead, they spent the weekend in prison.
This recent human rights violation highlights a key issue with the patriarchal power structure in the People’s Republic of China, mainly that its male dominated structure has no fundamental respect for women or women’s rights. From the officially mandated one child policy to the treatment of women prisoners of conscience, the system that runs the country is abhorrent and inherently sexist.
Women’s rights are violated on a consistent basis in the PRC, and Womens Rights Without Frontiers has said that the one child policy is their greatest concern, because it leads to gendercide. Reggie Littlejohn, President of WRWF, noted that the “selective elimination of 200 million women demands the passionate outrage of the women’s movement.”
The one-child policy in China exhibits a staggering lack of respect for the rights of mothers and girls, because the preference for sons is such a prevalent problem in post-Mao China. Consider the Christian group All Girls Aloud report: “Since China began enforcing the One-Child Policy in 1980, over 37 million girls have disappeared in the world’s largest gendercide, and over 336 million forced and coerced abortions have occurred under the policy’s reign.”
The horrors of the one-child policy also extend into government led forced abortions where women are brought into hospitals against their will to have the procedure. See the short video for more startling facts about forced abortions in China.
One of those women forced to have an abortion was Feng Jianmei, a 22-year-old woman who was seven months pregnant. In 2012, she was dragged out of her relatives’ home, shoved into a van, and sent directly to the hospital. Feng reported to NBC News that she was blindfolded, forced to sign a document she couldn’t read, and was administered two shots to her stomach. Thirty hours later, Feng gave birth to a dead baby girl.
This shocking story is not a unique or isolated instance. Human rights lawyer and Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng reported to the United States Congress that he documented 130,000 cases of forced abortion and forced sterilization in 2005 alone.
With this brutal treatment of mothers and lack of respect for girls in modern-day China, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that according to a 2009 report, China’s women account for 56 percent of all female suicides in the world.
Women are also subjected to startlingly targeted torture methods as well. Starting in 1999, communist authorities have been persecuting the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. The treatment of women prisoners who do the peaceful practice has been particularly brutal. Authorities have used electric batons and other objects to violate women’s private areas. Women are continually humiliated and shamed in prisons and labor camps as well. The persecution has included long prison sentences, and credible reports of live organ harvesting.
While we still have a long way to go for equal rights of women in the West and around the world, I think we can all agree the brutal practices of electric baton torture (and worse) of female Falun Gong prisoners, as well as forced abortions by the Communist Party, can’t be allowed to continue.
At the very least, we should be reminded that International Women’s Day isn’t always so international.