Evicted, attacked & abused: new findings expose danger vulnerable women face under China’s rule

London, March 20: A new report has revealed that even today, women in disadvantaged groups in China remain the most vulnerable to violence and face the threat of it every day. These findings are in stark contrast to the stance of the Chinese government, who have been quick to boast of the progress made for women for International Women’s day earlier this month.

The report from the China Human Right Defenders group finds that those women who find themselves on the fringes of society such as petitioners and trafficked sex workers remain at the greatest risk, with almost one-third of them reporting of being first attacked as teenagers and children. In addition, 42% of women said they had experienced being in “violent surroundings”, with the length ranging from days to years.

The sex trade in China has strongly risen following the beginning of government economic reforms that first began in 1979, however it is still not legalized or regulated. This has led to female sex workers becoming increasingly exposed to attacks. The report cited frequent cases of these attacks being committed by police officers and other law-enforcement officials with women admitting such attacks involved being “beaten and kicked” and forced to “strip-dance”

Interviews conducted with these “marginalized women” further painted a frightening picture. 75% revealed they have been victims of violent attack and more than one in five reported of being sexually violated. Seven percent reported they have been victims of “other” forms of violence which includes medicalized violence such as forced abortion and sterilization – such reproduction policies have continued to be brutally enforced in Tibet, with many eyewitness accounts from Tibetan women who have escaped to exile.

Many of these female sex workers are those from rural backgrounds looking to make a living in a growing cash economy, such as women nomads (drogmo), who have traditionally lived a laborious life compared to their male counter-parts. The forced resettling of the nomads – which has occurred primarily in Tibetan regions – has forced these people to adapt to an environment alien to them; women especially are at a disadvantage, as traditionally they are given less access to education. Official illiteracy rates for rural females across China were almost three times higher for women at 16% compared to 6% of rural males; however the problem is even more severe in Tibet where more than half of all women (nomadic and non-nomadic) are illiterate with official figures at 60% (see Purging the Treasure House, TWA, 2011).

The lack of education, educational facilities and job opportunities, coupled with the forced resettlements has resulted in growing evidence of a number of women turning to the sex trade to support themselves and their families. Tibetan nomad men have in turn too suffered from these conditions, jobless and forced in cramped living conditions, many have turned to alcoholism which in turn is a common cause to the beginning of violence towards women.

Alongside other countries, China is compelled to protect women against violence as stipulated under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), to which Beijing is a signatory.

The suffering of not only these women, but also all Tibet nomads is unacceptable and the Chinese government must address the issue promptly and openly. This report from the China Human Rights Defenders group eliminates the shroud of lies from the government. They must allow greater transparency about these true effects of their social and economic policies upon those vulnerable in society – particularly women from marginalised ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs, and end the detrimental policy of forced resettlement of nomads.

Mingyur la CEDAW

TWA submits crucial report on Nepal to UN CEDAW

Shadow report on Nepal addresses the treatment of Tibetan women in Nepal

Mingyur la CEDAWDharamsala: On the first day of the 49th session of the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Tibetan Women’s Association has respectfully submitted a shadow report on Nepal in response to Nepal’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report. Nepal is among the eight countries whose periodic reports will be reviewed at the CEDAW meeting (July 11 -29). Past reports submitted in 1997 and 2003 by the Government of Nepal have lacked any mention of refugees or internally displaced people. The report submitted by Nepal this year makes slight mention of refugee women in Nepal, but does not reference the plight of Tibetan women. Nepal claims that they have “been providing adequate protection and treatment to refugee women victimized by gender-based violence” but TWA claims that events documented since the submission of Nepal’s first report to CEDAW in 1997 would show otherwise.

The ten-paged report deals extensively with the rights of female refugees in Nepal, particularly the treatment of Tibetan women in Nepal by Nepali police during arrest and the contradiction to the stipulations of Article 3 and 4 of the Convention. These articles are meant to guarantee basic human rights and fundamental freedoms and to accelerate equality between men and women. The report also dwells on the impediments on the political rights of Tibetan Women in Nepal despite Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention, which guarantee political, public and international participation for women.

Through this report, TWA has placed four recommendations for the Government of Nepal to:

1) Fully implement the provisions of CEDAW, ensuring that the stipulations therein are translated into appropriate legislation to effectively protect the rights of women in member countries.

2) Take all necessary action to end arbitrary arrests, including unlawful and preventive arrests, of Tibetans and others engaged in peaceful political activity or otherwise going about their daily lives.

3) Publicly oppose the deportation of any Tibetan who faces a risk of persecution or torture under the Chinese government, and taking all necessary action, including the issuance of warnings and the imposition of disciplinary action, against Nepali police who threaten Tibetans with deportation.

4) Issue orders to all police officers to cease sexual assaults on female protesters and conduct investigations into sexual assaults on protesters that have taken place since the submission of the last CEDAW report, and thereby have the individuals responsible prosecuted.

TWA’s report is now made available on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights:

The vice president of TWA chapter in Nepal, Mingyur will attend the meeting for two weeks (July 15 to 29). Mingyur will represent Tibetan women in Nepal, observe the proceedings of the meeting and lobby the state participants.

As an organization committed to defending the rights of Tibetan Women, TWA has complete faith in the United Nations and its convention for the protection of women’s rights as the strongest avenue to report the true status of Tibetan women as oppressed citizens in Tibet and as
threatened refugees in host countries (in this case, Nepal) that employ an unnecessary hard-line policy.

TWA is the second largest Tibetan Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the world with a focus on the human rights of Tibetan women in Tibet, Tibetan women in exile, and refugee women from Tibet. In keeping with their mission, TWA has developed this shadow report to
address the treatment of Tibetan women in Nepal. TWA’s slogan is advocacy for home and action in exile.

Tibetan Women Leadership Program’s Letters to the UN

December 18, 2006: Twenty students from Bangalore, Baroda, Delhi and Dharamsala attended the five day Tibetan Women Leadership Program in Delhi. All participants were divided in four groups and each group lodged an individual complaint against the violation of human rights in Tibet to the respective United Nation’s Committee. The following are the copies of the letters that were sent.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
2 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY
10017, USA

December 14, 2006

Tibetan Women Calls Upon CEDAW to Protect Tibetan Women’s Rights in Tibet

Respected Andreas Mavroyiannis,

The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women was established in 1979 and in the past 17 years, we are aware that CEDAW has worked diligently towards solving women’s problems around the world. We are five Tibetan women who truly appreciate your dedicated effort towards this cause. As we live in exile and enjoy all freedoms and rights that exile life in India offers, but we are very concerned about the rights of Tibetan women in Tibet. Usually, governments pay vigilant attention towards safeguarding rights of women and children, but in the case of Tibet, we are witnessing a completely opposite policy from Chinese government. Though, we are blessed with freedom in exile, we feel the pain of our sisters in Tibet.

We have many concerns regarding the rights of our women in Tibet, but we would like to bring forth the following crisis that needs urgent attention and action from your committee.

Due to displacement of nomads in Tibet, many are forced to move to urban areas where there are limited job opportunities. Those who live in the city are also affected by the increasing modernization and high unemployment rates. Due to the above two reasons, many women are forced to become prostitutes as it is the only source of livelihood for them. This also results in rampant increase of the AIDS epidemic.

Tibetans are fast approaching a minority status in our own country and it is Chinese government’s strategic planning to completely eradicate Tibetan nationality from this world. Chinese government funds mobile medical groups which travel to different areas of Tibet and conducts forced sterilization of Tibetan women. The medical groups do not even use standard and clean medical equipments while operating on Tibetan women.

Tibetan Buddhism plays a pivotal role in our culture. Religious freedom is practiced only prima facie and nuns are forced to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama. If they disregard the Chinese laws, they are tortured, punished and imprisoned. Some nun political prisoners are even tortured by sticking electronic rods in their private parts.
The above mentioned points are of deep concern to us and we hope that CEDAW will take the necessary actions to hold China accountable for the gross injustice that Chinese policies have on Tibetan women. We thank you in advance for your commitment towards solving women’s issues in the world and especially Tibetan women’s rights in Tibet.

Thank you,

Phurbu Dolma
Tenzin Nyima
Tamdin Dolma
Tashi Tsomo
Tenzin Palkyi

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10

December 14, 2006

Tibetan Children in Tibet Need Your Support and Attention

Dear Jacob Egbert Doek,

We are five Tibetan students born in exile and we had fully enjoyed all the child rights in exile, but our brothers and sisters who are left in Tibet do not get even a single right. They are treated very harshly. So, we want to bring your attention to the true and sad situation through which Tibetan children are undergoing.

Tibetan children living in Tibet do not have right to education. One very strong example is of the Panchen Lama, the youngest political prisoner in the world who is a spiritual and political leader of Tibet. At a tender age of 6, he was kidnapped and he has not been heard of since. Now, he is turning 18 in a few months, and his rights as a child will end soon.

Majority of the Tibetan children are engaged in begging for their survival as they do not get basic education, and thus, they can not get good jobs when they grow up. Many Tibetan children risk their lives by trying to escape to exile over the Himalayas. Many Tibetan children’s lives are wasted into gambling and doing drugs as there are no other alternatives laid by the government to enhance their lives. Recently, there was also a case of Chinese border police shooting Tibetans escaping over the Himalayas. We want to know what happened to the children who are arrested on September 30, 2006 at Nangpa La Pass.

A very serious case of selling Tibetan children has come up in the past and we are very concerned about it. Children who are bought are then forced to do manual work and child labor for the profit of their Chinese owners. The children are treated like slaves.

Actually, there are many more points of concerns, but we pointed out the three main crisis facing children of Tibet. We hope that CRC will pay great attention towards the mentioned issues and that you will fully investigate Chinese government’s claim of upholding children rights in Tibet. We will be very grateful to all of you.

Thank you,

Jampa Lhakey
Tenzin Lhamo
Tenzin Namdak
Sangay Dolma
Tsering Yangzom

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

December 14, 2006

Tibetan Women Request Human Rights Council to Hold China Accountable for Human Rights Abuses in Tibet:

Dear Luis Alfonso de Alba,

We are five Tibet women living in exile in India and we want to request Human Rights Council members to revisit the Tibet issue and revive HRC’s interest in human rights condition in Tibet under the Chinese government. Tibetan people in Tibet are living under great difficulty due to Chinese Communist Party’s ruthless rule in Tibet. Chinese government presents bogus official papers on how human rights condition in Tibet is upheld and respected, which are all propaganda tools for the Chinese government.

If we look at the recent shootings at Nangpa La Pass which was witnessed by the world through a mountaineer’s video camera on September 30th, we can realize how China disregards border laws and ruthlessly kills Tibetans trying to escape into exile. Chinese government has continuously refused its violations of human rights in Tibet, but this time they were caught red-handed. We ask you to hold China accountable for its actions and demand immediate release of the Nangpa La Pass prisoners.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has been kidnapped at the age of 6, still remains missing for 11 years now. The entire world has been demanding his freedom, but there has been no response from the Chinese’ side.
Tulku Tenzin Delek is also imprisoned for life, and his friend, Lobsang Dhondup, was executed without trial. Tulku Tenzin Delek was feared by the Chinese Government as he was gaining popularity among his Tibetan followers and soon he became a target for the Chinese government policies’ wrath. He was falsely blamed for planting bombs and imprisoned for life.

We have faith in the Human Rights Council and we believe that the member states will pay attention to the above mentioned points. We thank you for your initiative in solving human rights problems around the world and we appeal to you for the urgent need of action towards resolving human rights violations in Tibet.

Thank you,

Tsering Deckyi
Jampa Choedon
Sonam Yangchen
Tenzin Nganan
Tsering Dolma