They’re Not Going to Take it

Newsweek looks at sexual discrimination in China with the booming sex trade and persistent job discrimination:

In recent years, the government has attempted to tackle the gender problem. Last year, for example, it launched a high-profile campaign against domestic violence, and in 2005 it introduced new laws against sexual harassment, though the definition remains vague.

Perhaps more significantly, some Chinese citizens are taking matters into their own hands. In a number of big cities, women-run nongovernmental organizations now provide training and information to migrants to help them avoid falling into the trap of prostitution. The Internet has also helped Chinese women to organize. “It’s had a big impact in filling in the gaps—you can find information about discrimination,” says Sun. Internet activism has been particularly noticeable in recent months: much of the publicity surrounding the case of the Kunming schoolgirls was generated by the blog posts of Wu Hongfei, a well-known rock singer and journalist. And the truth about Deng Yujiao, the waitress who stabbed a Hubei official to death, was revealed only after Wu Gan, another blogger, visited her in the hospital after her arrest—and found her strapped to a bed. His photos, posted online, helped spark public outrage.

These episodes may be a sign that, as Chinese society becomes more affluent and better educated, concern about the rights of women is increasing. “The young generation who’ve grown up in the cities with a good education have much more of a sense of individual legal rights,” says Jiang of ECNU. Wu, who also tried to help the families involved in the Kunming case, emphasizes, “If society doesn’t provide a fair environment and guarantee legal safeguards, then anyone can become a victim.” That thinking was on full display during the Deng case, when activists in Beijing and Wuhan staged street demonstrations in which bound and gagged women carried placards that asked, who is the next deng yujiao?

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