The detained women’s activists Li Tingting left, Zheng Churan right.
In the build up to International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8 (that’s today), China has detained at least two well-known Chinese feminist activists in efforts to clamp down on rallies for women’s rights that were planned for this weekend.
Li Tingting, a women’s rights activist known for campaigning for unisex toilets, was detained in Beijing according to comments made by her lawyer to Reuters. Lawyer Yan Xin said that he did not know why police had detained his client, but speculated that “it has something to do with maintaining social stability on International Women’s Day.” Another activist, Zheng Churan, is also being held in Guangzhou.
A rights activist who is close to the two women said that they and other feminist campaigners had planned to hold demonstrations against sexual harassment on March 7. “It isn’t just the two of them who have been detained, police have sought out many other feminist organizers throughout the country as well, and many demonstrations have been forcibly cancelled.”
The Chinese Communist Party has publicly drawn attention to International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8, with officials hailing the advancement of women’s rights and organizing events for female journalists and diplomats at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Shen Yueyue, president of the All-China Women’s Federation said at the occasion that the “Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of women’s rights.”
Women’s rights is a subject that has garnered increasing attention in China over the past few years, largely in part to the dedication of activists within the country. Last summer, activist Xiao Meili walked 2,000 kilometers across the country in protest of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.
By Dominic Jackson