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Tangshan and Xuzhou: Fury and questions over China’s remedy of ladies

The AttackWEIBO

It was a busy Friday night time at a barbecue restaurant within the Chinese metropolis of Tangshan. A bunch of ladies had been having dinner collectively when one among them was approached by a male diner.

Recoiling from his contact, she mentioned “go away”. In return, he clubbed her within the head, throwing her to the bottom.

His buddies then joined him, utilizing chairs and bottles to hit the ladies, a few of whom had been then dragged exterior and kicked within the head.

It was simply the most recent instance of violence towards ladies that is outraged the Chinese public – in January, information of a girl discovered chained in a shack sparked comparable misery.

Both instances have triggered unprecedented ranges of on-line criticism in addition to uncommon acts of activism. They’ve additionally raised questions, notably amongst younger ladies, about misogyny and male energy.

“It’s profoundly disrupted how Chinese people view their own society and specifically, the gender norms and stereotypes underpinning it,” mentioned Pichamon Yeophantong, a China researcher on the University of New South Wales.

Endemic violence

Women being assaulted in public by their companions “is disturbingly common online”, says Kerry Allen, the BBC’s Chinese media monitoring analyst.

“I see footage almost every day of either covertly filmed domestic violence or attacks that have been picked up via surveillance footage.”

A 2013 UN examine involving 1,000 males in a county in central China discovered that greater than half admitted to bodily or sexual violence towards their associate – an identical quantity additionally mentioned they’d use violence to defend their honour.

The UN report attributed gender-based violence to deeply-rooted gender norms in China – a rustic the place home violence was solely made a legal offence in 2016.

In Chinese society, “toughness, sexual prowess… and use of force in some occasions” stay beliefs of masculinity, it mentioned.

But observers say there’s additionally a reluctance to intervene in what remains to be extensively seen as a non-public matter between a pair.

Ms Allen mentioned that when living within the nation a decade in the past she witnessed a number of assaults in broad daylight the place “groups of bystanders [were] simply watching on”.

That’s what occurred in Tangshan, though the sufferer did not know the attacker. It was the identical in Xuzhou too, the place a girl had been chained by her neck in a hut exterior her home.

Her husband had claimed she was locked up as a result of her psychological sickness made her a menace to others. But a police investigation confirmed suspicion that she had been trafficked as a bride within the 1990s.

The footage solely surfaced and went viral after a vlogger got here throughout her whereas touring the village – the truth that it took so lengthy for her to be found deeply shocked individuals.

“She is a person, not an object. After having eight children over 20 years, she is only to be found today? None of the government departments involved are innocent,” one person wrote on social media platform Weibo.

A Screenshot Of The Video Shows The Woman With A Chain Around Her Neck Standing In The Hut


Demands for change

Many Chinese ladies had been shocked with the extent of violence proven within the Tangshan and Xuzhou instances, notably given China’s low crime charges and excessive ranges of surveillance.

“Speaking to the younger generation – university students, in particular – I’ve heard many of them express genuine shock that such violence against women still exists, if not condoned, in modern Chinese society,” Dr Yeophantong mentioned.

With the bubble burst, many are interrogating gender dynamics for the primary time, she added.

Calls for social change seem like most distinguished amongst Chinese millennials who’re lively on social media and keenly conscious of worldwide actions like #MeToo.

Some of the most well-liked posts on Weibo concerning the two instances voice issues about how ladies are handled in a society that also largely promotes patriarchal Confucian concepts.

“We need to… acknowledge that there are still forces in our environment that support, encourage, and drive men to engage in gender-based violence against women,” learn one essay.

Many have additionally expressed discontent over how authorities have responded to those instances, accusing these in energy of downplaying the position of gender.

In the Tangshan incident, the preliminary police and media response appeared to give attention to the attackers’ hyperlinks to native gangs and their legal historical past.

One report mentioned the girl had solely been approached for “conversation”. But on Weibo many customers objected, saying it was sexual harassment.

Outrage over the chained girl additionally prompted uncommon acts of public protest.

In separate incidents, two ladies drove throughout the nation to attempt to rescue her. Unmasked demonstrators photographed themselves with indicators and posted the images on-line. One bookshop arrange a show of feminist literature.

Is this a turning level?

“Women are angry now and speaking up. But I’m not optimistic that this will lead to fundamental changes,” mentioned Yaqiu Wang, a China researcher with Human Rights Watch.

In the face of immense public strain, authorities responded to each instances by launching investigations and taskforces.

Amid outrage over the situation of the girl in Xuzhou, they promised a trafficking crackdown by stepping up checks on native marriage licences. After the restaurant assault, they elevated night time patrols in Tangshan, and dismissed a neighborhood police chief. Alleged perpetrators in each instances have been arrested.

But Guo Jing, a home violence case employee in China, mentioned it is typical for authorities to deal with gender-based crimes as one-off incidents, solved by catching and punishing the accused.

“These incidents are not viewed from the structural point of view; there is no long-term perspective nor institutional solutions,” she instructed BBC Chinese.

In March, some social gathering members on the National People’s Congress instructed strengthening legal guidelines defending ladies, and rising punishments for human trafficking.

But these have but to materialise, and the Chinese Communist Party management has not signalled any adjustments.

Meanwhile, censorship has elevated.

In the wake of the Tangshan assault, Weibo eliminated accounts that “incited gender confrontation”. Older threads concerning the chained girl – which frequently included discussions about sexism – have additionally been wiped.

Ms Wang mentioned it is near unattainable to maintain grassroots activism given how China has been erasing its civil rights teams in recent times.

Observers are involved that the crackdown has additionally hit ladies’s rights activism: vocal feminists have been arrested and high-profile MeToo courtroom battles dismissed.

The latest case involving tennis participant Peng Shuai has additionally prompted fears that sexual assault accusers are being silenced.

“The forces that used to exist that pressured the government to do better on gender issues have been eliminated,” Ms Wang mentioned.

“All these bode ill for women’s rights in China.”


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