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China Sex & Gender

Another Case of Domestic Violence in Public: Man Abuses Pregnant Wife in Chongqing Street

A video that shows how a man beats a pregnant woman on the rainy streets of Chongqing has sparked outrage on Chinese social media. Over recent years, footage showing domestic abuse often surfaces on Weibo – bystanders hardly ever intervene.

Manya Koetse

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A video that shows how a man beats a pregnant woman on the rainy streets of Chongqing has sparked outrage on Chinese social media. Over recent years, footage showing domestic abuse in public often surfaces on Weibo – bystanders hardly ever intervene.

A video that captures a man beating his wife in the middle of a rainy street in a Chongqing neighborhood has triggered controversy on Chinese social media. The woman, who is reportedly pregnant, screams out while her husband drags her by the hair.

The man can also be seen kicking a little dog that is barking and clearly distressed. According to neighbors, the couple is often heard fighting and screaming.

The video was recorded in the district of Bishan, in the Nanhelijing neighborhood, on June 13. According to several sources, the couple already has a 1-year-old child.

Over recent years, public displays of domestic violence have frequently made headlines in China. In 2016, a video of a man slapping his wife and forcing her into the car trunk at a Hebei gas station sparked national outrage – also because bystanders filmed the incident and let the man drive away with the woman in the back of his car.

In April 2016, the assault of a woman in a Beijing hotel lobby also sparked wide discussion. Security cameras captured how bystanders and hotel staff did not help the woman when she was attacked by the man. Many people thought the man and woman were a married couple, which is why they allegedly did not intervene; domestic abuse is often considered a “private matter” that outsiders should not interfere with.

In 2016, another video also surfaced online that showed a man dragging a woman on the street by her hair. A neighborhood guard approached the couple, but just watched the scene and then turned around. Many other bystanders also did not do anything to stop the abuse.

Although there has been increased public attention for domestic violence, especially since China launched its first law against domestic violence in 2016, violence between partners is still a widespread problem in China. In 2008, one study found that approximately 19.7% of women in China had experienced violence perpetrated by their male intimate partners (Tang & Lai 2008, in Cao et al 2014, 684).

In 2013, a survey from the All-China Women’s Federation reported that a quarter of Chinese women have suffered from domestic abuse at some point in their lives, although the actual number might be much higher (The Lancet 2016, 1028).


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“No matter the reason, a man should never hit a woman in the first place,” one female Weibo netizen says: “But it’s even worse when it’s a man hitting a pregnant woman, who is his own wife. And then doing so in the pouring rain just makes it more despicable.”

“I also can’t understand any man so cruel to animals. It’s possible not to love animals, but it’s unthinkable to hurt them,” another commenter writes.

Many netizens wonder why the woman does not divorce the man. “It must be Stockholm Syndrome,” one person suggests (“斯德哥尔摩综合征”).

“Hopefully the baby she carries isn’t his,” some people write.

But some people also criticize the media for publishing this video. One Beijing netizen writes: “I always feel like this kind of news is just released by the media to trigger the public’s anger, without any professional ethical base to it. No matter who watches this, whether they’re strong or weak, they will all be angry about this. News that is just released like this, without any background details, often triggers anger and then turns out to have some other truth to it in the end (..), but then people are already on to the next piece of news that they can be angry about.”

When this incident was reported by Chinese media, the newsreader on television did remind people not just to film incidents such as these, but to always first call the police.

“The person who filmed this is truly ruthless,” one commenter said: “If they’d called the police straight away we wouldn’t even need to have seen this violence. If they were just taping this incident in order to hype it, we should strongly condemn it.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Cao, Y., Yang, S., Wang, G., & Zhang, Y. 2014. “Sociodemographic Characteristics of Domestic Violence in China: A Population Case-Control Study.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 29(4): 683–706.

Tang, C. S., & Lai, B. P. 2008. “A Review of Empirical Literature on the Prevalence and Risk Markers of Male-on-Female Intimate Partner Violence in Contemporary China, 1987-2006.” Aggression and Violent Behavior (13): 10-28.

The Lancet. “Domestic Violence in China.” The Lancet (387), March: 1028.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Media

Online Outrage over Gansu Female Medical Workers Required to Shave Their Heads

Heroes of the coronavirus crisis or victims of visual propaganda? A video showing female medical workers having their heads shaved has triggered controversy.

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A Chinese media post praising female nurses for having their heads shaved has sparked outrage on Weibo and WeChat. Are these women heroes of the coronavirus crisis or victims of gendered visual propaganda?

A video showing tearful female medical workers having their head shaved before going to COVID-19 epicenter city Wuhan has sparked outrage on Chinese social media.

The video, originally posted by Gansu Daily (每日甘肃网) on February 15, shows how a group of female nurses is standing in line to have their hair shaved off in preparation of their mission to Hubei to assist during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

In the short segment that has since gone viral on Weibo and WeChat, some women can be seen crying while having all of their hair shaved off.

According to Gansu Daily and other Chinese media, the fifteen nurses, including one man, are part of a medical aid group that was sent out to Wuhan this weekend. Their hair was reportedly shaved off “in accordance with requirements” to make their work more efficient and reduce the risk of infection.

The original news post praises the women as “the epidemic’s heroes in harm’s way” (“疫情中最美的逆行者”) – a term also used to describe brave firefighters during the 2015 Tianjin explosions (for more background on this term in Chinese, also see Xinhua and Zhihu).

Although the story praises the female medical workers as heroes and was soon reposted and promoted by many other (state) media, it was not just met with positive reactions from Chinese netizens.

On the contrary: it triggered waves of criticism over the medical team’s supervisors requiring the women to shave off their hair, with many deeming the measures unnecessary, humiliating, and sexist.

“Why do they need to shave all of their hair, the men don’t even need to do that?!”, some Weibo commenters wonder.

Many Weibo users wonder how necessary it actually is for the women to go completely bold for medical work purposes, wondering why the male workers do not need to shave their heads and why the women could not just opt for a shorter hairstyle instead – suggesting the media circus surrounding the shaving of the heads is more about visual propaganda than actually being a necessity.

“I am a medical worker myself,” one Weibo user writes: “I consulted an infection control doctor [on this matter] and they said it is not necessary at all to have a bald head. Short hair is convenient enough, and hair has a protective function too to reduce [skin] irritation from the friction of wearing hats and masks. It furthermore also has a function of catching sweat, preventing it from dripping to your eyes. A shaven head does more harm than good.”

“Why do people need to bleed and cry in order for them to become heroes?”, others say: “This is just cruel.”

Adding to the online fury was a photo showing the group of medical workers after their heads were shaved, as the one male nurse in the group not only seemed to wear a better quality face mask, but also appeared to have much more hair left than the female nurses.

The original Gansu Daily post has since been deleted from social media.

On WeChat account Epoch Story (“epochstory2017″/Epoch故事小馆), author Chen Mashu (陈麻薯) posted a critique on February 17th titled “Please Stop Using Female Bodies as Propaganda Tools” (“请停止用女性的身体,作为宣传的工具“).

Recent online Chinese visual propaganda in times of the coronavirus crisis has seen a strong focus on Wuhan medical workers.

This kind of visual propaganda often highlights the idea of “sacrificing,” especially when it comes to women as pretty girls, loving mothers, or good wives.

In the WeChat article, author Chen argues that Chinese state media always uses women’s bodies as a tool for propaganda, and argues that it should not be necessary for women to endure extra hardship or suffering (in this case, sacrifice their hair) in order to make them admirable ‘model workers.’ The fact that they are fighting on the front line should be more than enough reason to praise them, Chen writes.

While these women’s tears were “used to try to impress the audience” and become an example of some “collectivist spirit,” Chen argues, this kind of propaganda backfired because the individual needs and wishes of these women were completely ignored during the process.

Although the original story and visuals may have meant to be empowering in times of coronacrisis, they are actually counterproductive to female empowerment at large.

This is not the first time the role of women in Chinese state media propaganda become a big topic of discussion online.

In 2016, a photo series titled “100.000 soldier-loving girls” (十万恋军女孩) posted by China’s Military Web during the Wuhan flood also caused controversy. In the online media campaign, Chinese state media paid a ‘tribute’ to rescue workers by sharing pictures of girls holding the message “I wish to wash your uniform for you”. It triggered online discussions on the submissive female image propagated by Chinese state media.

At time of writing, various posts about the shaved heads of the Gansu medical workers have been taken offline.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan) and Bobby Fung (@bobbyfungmr), with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Sex & Gender

Girls’ Charity Project Funds Boys Instead: Online Anger over ‘Spring Buds Program’

The ‘Spring Buds’ charity supposedly only focused on helping girls, but it turns out this is not the case.

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A charity fund that was supposedly dedicated to girls’ education in rural China has been found to fund the education of boys, triggering anger online.

The Chinese charity “Spring Buds Program” (春蕾计划), a project meant to advance girls’ education launched by the CCTF (China Children and Teenagers’ Fund 中国儿童少年基金) has come under fire for providing financial aid to schoolboys in China.

The “Spring Buds” project, which falls under the All-China Women’s Federation, has received the China Charity Award in the past for its efforts to promote girls’ education. The program was launched in 1989 to help girls in China’s impoverished rural areas to go to school, improve literacy rates among China’s young girls and women, and empower girls to strengthen their influence in their local communities.

This week, the charity’s focus has come under scrutiny after it became known that of the 1267 students receiving financial aid as part of one of ‘Spring Buds’ scholarship programs, there were 453 male students.

The topic triggered wider online discussions on Chinese social media on gender inequality in China.

Some commenters argued that boys, even in impoverished areas, are generally still better off than girls due to a persisting gender preference for boy children.

Weibo users also pointed out how there are multiple non-gender specific charity programs in China, and that ‘Spring Buds’ is one of the few focused on girls only – arguing that it should thus also really be assisting solely girls.

As the news about ‘Spring Buds’ coincided with this week’s launch of the Global Gender Gap Index report, some Weibo users also wondered why Chinese official media would quote this report and mention Japan’s worsening gender equality, while not mentioning anything about the status quo of gender equality in China.

The CCTF responded to the controversy via their official Weibo account on December 17th, stating that although its program was initially focused solely on girls, this year’s project funding was also allocated to impoverished male students who needed “urgent help.”

The organization further noted that they will be more transparent to charity donors in the future about how their funds are allocated.

Although the hashtag “Anger over Spring Bud Project Subsidizing School Boys” (#春蕾计划资助男生引质疑#) was used on social media by several Chinese media outlets to report the issue, the hashtag page is no longer accessible on Weibo at time of writing.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes
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Featured image photo by Ray Chan.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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