Chinese women protest gynaecology checks for civil service jobs

Women students protested outside a government office in Wuhan

Job discrimination, gender inequality and invasive tests are still every day factors of life in China, but female activism is on the rise, as evidenced by the university students protesting outside a government office in Chinese city Wuhan.

The demonstrators – protesting against a requirement that women applying for civil service jobs must undergo invasive gynaecological examinations – are the latest to join an ever-growing chorus of Chinese activists, standing tall in the face of deep-rooted gender inequality, and the government’s hard line on public protests.

The regulations that spurred the protest have been in place since 2005, and require women applying for civil service jobs to undergo numerous invasive tests for sexually transmitted diseases and malignant tumours. Applicants are also often asked to provide information on their menstrual cycles.

‘Gender discrimination is very widespread and in many senses institutionalized in China,’ said Geoff Crothall, communications director for Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin.

‘What’s been increasing in the past few years is the number of women in social and civil society activism groups who are standing up and demanding change,’ he continued.

‘Sexually transmitted diseases can’t be transmitted at work, so we think it’s unnecessary to test for them,’ said Huang Yizhi – a lawyer for Beijing-based non-profit social justice group Yirenping Center – who, in March, sent an open letter to government agencies protesting against the gynaelogical examinations.

‘If I’m going to the hospital in order to find work, is it really necessary to examine so many things, even those relating to my extremely private parts?’ he continued.

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