Five women’s rights activists are being held illegally in Beijing because the police have failed to ask prosecutors to formally arrest them. According to Chinese law, the police are generally required to file a request for a formal arrest to prosecutors within 30 days of detaining someone if they want to continue the detention. According to their lawyers, the deadline for that was Tuesday for the five women. As the lawyers checked with the prosecutor’s office, they discovered that no applications had been filed meaning that it has become overtime detention and that they police have violated the law. The lawyers also stated that the police were investigating the women on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a charge that can result in a multiyear prison sentence and a method often used to silence dissenters. Although it is unsure as to why the women who were arrested in Guangzhou and Hangzhou ended up at the Haidian Detention Center, which is in western Beijing. The five women were detained in a coordinated move starting the evening of March 6, they had been organizing peaceful nationwide protests that would have taken place around March 8, International Women’s Day, to denounce sexual harassment on public transportation. The detention of the five women has ignited international criticism of China. Petitions have circulated widely online and around the world protesters have stood on streets wearing masks that have photographs of the women’s faces.
I think it’s ridiculous and inexcusable that these women are receiving no answers. First of all, the cause that they were raising awareness about is completely validated; women shouldn’t have to worry about sexual harassment on public transportation. That’s outrageous. It’s about time that women’s rights be recognized globally, and that we actually do something about it.