China Blog Blotter: Fighting to Upgrade the Status of Women

For a nation as influential and economically robust as China, its laws for the protection of women are laughable. Let’s not even get into the discussion of women’s representation in politics or business, but just the most basic rights of safety for women. As a developed nation, China is pathetically behind on its provisions even for physical equality. Heinous crimes such as domestic violence, rape, and forced prostitution are still tolerated by the Chinese police, generally loath to punish offenders. This reality, however, is about to change as Chinese women (and men) become more vocal about these abuses through the internet.

Here’s a typical case: In 2006, an eleven-year old girl was forced into prostitution and raped by bathhouse operators. Seven men were involved in this ordeal, but only one was actually sentenced with punishment after the victim’s mother filed a lawsuit that caused outrage in the community.

Such a case should not even be tolerated, but why did it take so much effort to even bring it to court? The regional police, apparently, were helping the primary defendant fabricate documentation about his “meritorious services” to avoid the death sentence. Not satisfied with the punishment, understandably, the victim’s mother continued to file complaints, hoping that the courts would also punish the police officers that were involved with the fabrication.

And what did this bring her? Get this– her totally valid argument somehow turned into a “disturbance of public order,” as the regional police sentenced the mother into one year and a half of “reeducation” camp. But to cap this horror story off with some kind of justice, the mother’s lawyer posted this story on his microblog and stirred a cyber fervor demanding for the mother’s freedom. Netizens are firmly standing by the mother’s side and writing away in support.

Fortunately, this is one of the many cases that are getting picked up by the Netizen community. Although China continues to be plagued with domestic violence, rape, and forced prostitution, the voice of China is changing. Before the internet, the only voice that managed to reach the masses had been that of the authorities. The official voice placed violence against women as a backburner issue. But with the internet, thousands of women’s stories are put on a very loud speaker phone, sharing the tears, bruises, and scars with millions of others who are willing to listen. And these people are not going to be quiet.

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