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UN: Feature Chinese Women Activists on Anniversary

20 Years Since Beijing Declaration, China Violates Women’s Rights

(New York) - The United Nations should highlight independent women’s rights activists from China at a September 27, 2015 forum in New York, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today to Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women. The visiting president of China, Xi Jinping, should be called upon to end the repression of women and women’s rights activists in China.

The event will mark the 20th anniversary of the historic 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which established key benchmarks for promoting women’s and girls’ rights, and paved the way for important international obligations on the rights of women in armed conflict. The event is co-hosted by UN Women and the Chinese government, and Xi is slated to give opening remarks.  

“China’s participation at the 20th anniversary event should not be limited to the repressive government but should include the brave Chinese women fighting for change,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “UN Women should ensure that the voice of an independent woman activist from China is heard on this important occasion.”

While China has made modest gains with respect to women’s rights since 1995, it has not significantly reduced some of the most fundamental human rights abuses against women and girls, and in some respects has exacerbated them. 

Most notably this year, China detained five prominent feminists for their plans to raise awareness about sexual harassment, held them for 37 days, and then released them on bail without dropping the criminal charges against them. Xi should be called upon to drop the charges against the “Feminist Five” immediately.

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