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.

Tibetan Parliament debate 'Violence against women'

TWA seeks effective implementation of legal measures protecting women’s rights

A resolution on ending ‘Violence against Women’ receives unanimous support from the members of TPIE

Tibetan Parliament debate 'Violence against women'September 30, 2011 Dharamsala: Two TWA representatives, also members of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, today tabled the dire issue of ‘Violence against Women’ in the ongoing parliament session of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. Prior to the parliamentary debate, TWA members held a caucus meeting among women parliamentarians and discussed the pragmatic approach of the resolution.

TWA President Dolkar Lhamo Kirti and TWA Research and Communications Officer Dhardon Sharling proposed a resolution bearing three clauses:

  1. The members of the Parliament should condemn in strongest terms, any form of violence against women
  2. The Kashag / Executive is requested to ensure the effective enforcement of the host country’s laws and acts on dealing with any forms of violence against women, such as the recent act of violence against a Tibetan woman in Tenzinghang. To this end, the Kashag / Executive is requested to provide a directive and a proper guideline to the settlement officers in India, Nepal and Bhutan, and the overseas representatives, on the effective implementation of the laws and acts protecting women’s rights. This will bolster the confidence of women.
  3. The Kashag / Executive is requested to present a report on their plan and the guidelines to the Parliament by March 2012, during the 3rd Budget session of the Parliament.

After a 30 minute parliamentary debate, the resolution was passed after it gained unanimous support from the members of the legislative body.

As many may be aware, this summer a terrible case of gender-based violence against a woman who had “committed adultery” took place in Tenzinghang, a Tibetan Settlement of 800 people across four camps, 160 km from Bomdilla in Arunachal Pradesh, India. The unfortunate incident was a shocking reminder of the great and tragic disasters that can occur when, in the absence of transparent guidelines, people place the law in their own hands.

The Tibetan community was naturally shocked and appalled to hear of the incident in Tenzinghang and the widespread furore led to the dissemination of much rumour and misinformation. Two TWA representatives, Vice President Samten Choedon and Sponsorship Officer Tenzin Dickey, visited the area and spoke extensively to those involved (they also led a well-attended three-day training session on ‘Gender Sensitization and Fighting Domestic Violence’ to the public in Tenzinghang, Tezu and Miao in Arunachal Pradesh). Our final report, which fully documents the incident and subsequent action from TWA, should be considered authentic and accountable.

This comprehensive report can be viewed in English (11-page PDF) and Tibetan (7-page PDF).

TWA wish to sincerely thank and pay our respects to the victim of this terrible abuse, who has agreed to share her story with the world, a brave choice that TWA do not intend to waste; this case has opened our eyes to the continuing discrimination and violence faced by Tibetan women and the imperative for a clear resolution from parliament and resolute commitment to preventing future incidents.

“When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.” – Kofi Annan (former UN General Secretary)

Press contacts:

Dolkar Lhamo Kirit (President) – 9882291202
Samten Choedon (Vice President) – 9418936118
Tseyang Oshoe (General Secretary) – 9418413625
Dhardon Sharling (Research and Communications Officer) – 9418791189