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China Sex & Gender

China Does Not Allow Single Women To Freeze Their Eggs

An online discussion has erupted in China about the legality of single women freezing their eggs.

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Since a Chinese actress stated that she had her eggs frozen in the United States, an online discussion has erupted in Mainland China about the legality of single women freezing their eggs. Famous writer Han Han responds on Weibo: “Why are women not allowed to use their own eggs?”

“Manya, perhaps you should write about this,” my Beijing friend Lily texts me on Weixin: “I have been discussing this with some of my friends today, and it is somewhat of a sensitive topic.” She sends me an article that has been making its rounds on China’s bigger social media platforms, such as Sina Weibo and Weixin. It is titled “China Does Not Allow Single Women to Freeze Their Eggs” (中国禁单身女性用冷冻卵子), and has triggered much controversy.

Lily has passed her 30th birthday and is not married yet. She is also labelled a ‘leftover woman’ or ‘shèngnǚ‘, and laughs when she calls herself that way. She may want to have a child in the future, but first wants to go abroad and work on her career. For her, the issue of being able to freeze her egg cells, whether she is married or not, is a relevant one.

 

“Suddenly artificial insemination is an issue of public interest – unmarried women in China cannot carry out this procedure. ”

 

The online discussion about freezing eggs started after Chinese actress and director Xu Jinglei (徐静蕾) stated in an interview that she had nine eggs frozen in the United States in 2013, at the age of 39. She calls her frozen eggs a “back up plan”, in case she will not find a suitable husband and regrets not having children. The news of these frozen eggs attracted the attention of many of China’s single women who may want to have a child some day. It has suddenly made artificial insemination an issue of public interest, especially because China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission stated that unmarried women in China cannot carry out this procedure.

More specifically: although single women in China technically can have their eggs frozen (if they have the money for it), they will not be able to have them inseminated unless they provide three certificates: their identification card, their marriage certificate, and their ‘zhunshengzheng‘ (准生证 ) – the ‘Permission to give Birth’, which will not be issued without the marriage certificate. In short: single women will not be able to have a baby through artificial insemination, because they will never get the required legal papers to go through with the procedure.

Famous Chinese blogger and writer Han Han (韩寒), one of the most influential people on Weibo, shares his thoughts on the issue. “Is it impossible to want a baby when you are not married? One cannot use one’s own eggs?”, he writes: “Why can’t women decide on their own whether or not they want to have children? And what if an unmarried woman does get pregnant, and they don’t get a ‘Permission to give Birth’? Then the child cannot even get a residence registration”.

 

“Why should having a baby be bound together with being married?”

 

With his Weibo post, Han Han strikes a particularly sensitive chord, not just because he addresses the issue of freezing one’s eggs and artificial insemination, but also because he raises questions about China’s ‘Permission to give Birth’. This certificate is necessary for the vast majority of people who want to have a baby in China. Without it, the child will not have a residence permit (hukou 户口), and as a consequence, will not be registered in China’s social system – meaning they cannot go to school or have any other societal rights. (For more information, read this excellent blog about giving birth in Chengdu by ChengduLiving.com).

Artificial insemination itself is not illegal in China when it is done by a married couple; it is only against the law when done by those who are not lawfully married.

“Why should having a baby be bound together with marriage? Even I, a simple straight guy, cannot see the logic in this,” Han Han writes.

 

“Women are not men’s child-rearing machines or walking wombs.”

 

He later adds another post to this. It says:

Some people don’t agree with my Weibo post, saying that children should have a stable family and that they should be raised with a father, and that they’d be miserable otherwise. Of course, such a mainstream family is best, but we also have to give the right of choice to the people who are not mainstream. Besides that, being married now doesn’t mean you will not divorce later, just as unmarried mothers might find a husband. Don’t take away the freedom of choice from those who have different ways of thinking than you (…). Women are not men’s child-rearing machines or walking wombs.”

The issue of being able to freeze one’s eggs and Han Han’s reaction have become a much-discussed topics on China’s social media.

Freezing one’s egg cells, like IVF, officially falls under the category of ‘human assisted reproductive technology’, which is reportedly prohibited for single women according to China’s current law. User Zhao Lao Ai refers to a Zhihu message board on the issue, where lawyer Ji Hongwei says that he has not found any legal ground why freezing eggs should be illegal for single women. “After reading into the issue carefully,” the lawyer says: “I did not find any one of the conditions for ‘human assisted reproductive technology’ stating directly, or indirectly, that unmarried single women cannot make use of it.” The lawyer therefore wonders who is in charge of the Family Planning Commission, and on which law the conclusion is based that single women cannot have their own eggs inseminated.

The feminist group The Voice of Women’s Rights has issued a balanced and nuanced statement on Weibo, saying: “There are many social implications behind the pressure for women to bear children, and they cannot merely be solved through technical procedures. Freezing eggs is a costly and risky operation, with low success rates, and it does not necessarily brings women freedom in terms of child-bearing. However, it should be one of the options that women have.”

Some Weibo users are less nuanced, clearly expressing their anger, saying: “Even in ancient times it was not illegal for women to be single mums – now there is family planning or a two-child policy, but you cannot control our wombs by the freezing eggs issue!”

 

“This is China, deal with it.”

 

Of the ten thousands netizens that responded to the issue, there are also many who disagree with Han Han, and those who simply state that “this is how China works, deal with it.”

For my friend Lily, the issue is simple. “I don’t know where I will be in five, six years time. I don’t know if I’ll be married. I don’t know if I want children. I don’t even know if I would want to freeze my eggs. I only know that I want the freedom to be able to make the decision.”

By Manya Koetse

Image by Global Times.

©2015 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 Sex & Gender

Shaanxi Domestic Violence Incident Caught on Home Security Camera, Sparks Online Outrage

The man, a deputy director at a state-owned company, has been fired after the video of the domestic abuse went viral online.

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Home security footage showing a man brutally beating his wife in front of their young child has drawn widespread criticism on Chinese social media. The man, a deputy director at a state-owned company, has now been fired.

A shocking video of a domestic violence incident taking place inside a home in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, has sparked anger across Chinese social media over the past week.

The video, recorded in the family’s living room, shows a man severely beating his wife while their toddler is with them in the room (a blurred video published by The Paper can be viewed here, viewer discretion is advised).

Although stories of domestic violence often go trending on Chinese social media, this case is especially noteworthy due to the fact that the incident was recorded by indoor home security cameras. Security cameras inside the home have become more popular in China over the past few years, especially for families with kids or pets to keep tabs on what is going on inside the living room or other home areas.

The video first shows the man frantically hitting the woman on her head over a dozen times while she is sitting on the couch with the child on her lap. The woman then stands up and seemingly tries to get her daughter somewhere safe while the child cries out for her mum. The man then violently drags the woman away again and resumes to frantically beat her. When the child cries out, the mum tells her “don’t be scared darling” while the abuse continues – the man slaps the woman on her face and pushes her down.

At one point, another woman, who is said to be the man’s mother, steps into the room and takes the young child away without stopping the violence or saying anything at all.

The video of the incident sparked major outrage on Thursday, January 20, as it went viral on Chinese social media and became a hot search topic.

Various hashtags related to the incident ended up as popular searches / trending topics.

The video supposedly surfaced online because the domestic abuse victim posted it herself on WeChat, although this is not entirely clear as her identity and social media information are kept private. The video was posted on Weibo by someone within her Wechat friends group on January 19.

In screenshots that have also gone viral online, the victim speaks about the abuse, claiming it was not the first time for her to suffer abuse at the hands of her husband. She writes that she was also abused, both psychically and mentally, during her pregnancy and shortly afterward and that her husband has also been aggressive with their child.

Many Weibo users who watched the video of the incident already commented that they could tell domestic abuse was normalized inside the Wang family home due to the grandmother’s seemingly calm and indifferent response to the violence.

The man in the video was identified as Wang Pengfei (王鹏飞), a deputy director at the state-owned Shaanxi Airport New Silk Road Trading Company. The company opened up a brand-new Weibo account to post a public statement on the matter, condemning the behavior of Mr. Wang and saying he was suspended from his duties. They later added another post that Wang was fired from his job.

On Thursday, the police also posted on social media to inform netizens that the case was under investigation. Two days later, local authorities from the Baqiao District in Xi’an, Shaanxi, issued a statement regarding the case.

According to the police statement, the 28-year-old Mrs. Wang and the 34-year-old Mr. Wang had an argument on the night of January 18 over a household matter. Mrs. Wang allegedly reacted in an “extreme” way and the conflict between the two escalated, leading to Mr. Wang beating up his wife. Mrs. Wang reported the incident to the police on January 19th.

The police statement said that “both spouses recognized their mistakes” and that, in accordance with the law, Mr. Wang received a five-day prison sentence and Mrs. Wang received “educational criticism.” Being a Party member, Mr. Wang was also given a “severe disciplinary warning” within the Party.

Over the past few years, domestic violence has been a recurring topic on Chinese social media with many voices trying to raise public awareness about this widespread social problem.

In 2019, the Chinese makeup influencer Yuya Mika shared her story as a survivor of domestic abuse in a video that went viral on Weibo. That video contained shocking footage of Yuya’s ex-boyfriend trying to violently drag her out of an elevator – a moment that was also caught on security cameras.

The tragic story of a Tibetan vlogger named Lamu (拉姆, Lhamo in Tibetan) also triggered many discussions on Chinese social media in 2020, after she was set on fire by her ex-husband who previously abused her for years. Lamu did not survive, and her death sparked an online movement advocating for better laws and support systems for domestic abuse victims in China (for more on this story, check out our podcast on Lamu here).

This week, the Xi’an incident again led to online discussions about how Chinese authorities deal with domestic violence. Many commenters argued that the five-day detainment sentence was too light, and others wondered why the wife was “re-educated” by the police while being the victim in this matter, and why it was suggested that her “extreme” response to their argument was what led to the beating.

“As if she deserved the beating due to her lack of good communication,” one person wrote.

Various Chinese state media, including CCTV, condemned domestic violence and stressed that it was never just a “family issue.”

Weibo blogger ‘Marcus Says’ (@马库斯说) posted a commentary on the incident, arguing that it is useless for Chinese state media to claim there is “zero tolerance” for domestic violence in China when the law still does not do enough to punish the wrongdoers and to protect the vulnerable people in these kinds of situations. The post was shared over 7000 times.

But there were also many Weibo users who claimed that it was Mrs. Wang who first hit her husband, arguing that the problem of domestic violence often comes from both sides and that there should be more awareness about women abusing men. Commenter @voiceyaya wrote: “Again we’re talking about domestic abuse and we generally and repeatedly say we shouldn’t blame the victim and that it’s never the victim’s fault, but I don’t think it’s very meaningful. Why can’t we face the reality that many cases of domestic violence involve violence on both sides and that there is a problem of both parties hitting each other?”

There are also those who blame Mrs. Wang for punishing her husband too severely by exposing his behavior online, arguing that he will never get another job now that his name and photo are widely known.

Despite some online disagreements about the case, most people agree that the child’s well-being should be prioritized above anything else. “How tragic for the child, will this really be the last time she sees her daddy hit her mum? She is so small to be immersed in such a frightening scene. This will continue to haunt her for a long time.”

It is currently not known if the couple will divorce, or if Mr. Wang and his wife will be reunited after his five days of detainment are over.

By Manya Koetse

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.

©2022 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

Doctor Livestreams Gynecological Surgery: Video Streaming Site Bilibili Responds to the Controversy

An anesthesiologist from Shandong live-streamed from the operating room while a patient was undergoing gynecological surgery.

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A video on the popular Chinese video platform Bilibili has triggered controversy on social media. On January 15, a doctor was filming during gynecological surgery and live-streamed the entire procedure for everyone to see.

The issue came to light after one Bilibili user posted on social media that he had personally seen the live stream on Saturday, saying that the female patient was under anesthesia and unaware of being filmed. After this person immediately reported the live stream to Bilibili, it was cut off and ended.

The video streaming platform Bilibili responded to the controversy on Tuesday night, stating that the livestreamer was previously warned and cut off from the platform and that he has now been permanently banned. Bilibili also stated they had reported the person to Chinese authorities.

A hashtag related to Bilibili’s statement was viewed over 220 million times on Weibo on Wednesday, making it one of the top trending topics of the day (#B站回应有账号直播妇科手术#).

Chinese news outlet The Paper (澎湃新闻) reported that the doctor in question was identified by authorities and has been arrested. According to one of their sources, the person who live-streamed the surgery is an anesthesiologist who works at Rizhao Central Hospital in Shandong. The case is currently under investigation.

Weibo commenters have responded to the incident with shock and disgust. “This doctor lacks any medical ethics,” some write, with others mentioning how the privacy of the patient has been violated and saying they hope the doctor will be punished for what he has done. There are also those who wonder why other medical staff members did not intervene when they saw the anesthesiologist filming, suggesting this probably was not the first time for him to do so.

The issue has also triggered online discussions regarding Bilibili’s content policies, with some raising questions on why videos or live streams relating to politically sensitive issues will be pulled offline immediately while these kinds of videos can apparently be live-streamed without any problem.

Just a few months ago, similar discussions also trended on Chinese social media after an online influencer committed suicide by drinking pesticide during a live broadcast.

Xiakedao (@侠客岛), a Weibo account run by state media outlet People’s Daily, published a commentary on the recent Bilibili controversy on January 19, stressing that Chinese video platforms should be held accountable for their lack of supervision.

Update January 22:

China Daily reports on January 22nd that eleven people have been held accountable for the live stream and that the doctor, named Li, is currently in custody and is facing criminal charges. His medical certification will be canceled.

By Manya Koetse

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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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