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Gender-Related Events in 2016
Source:Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date:2017-1-12-
Title: Gender-Related Events in 2016
Author: Zhang Zhiqi
Source: Jiemian.com & China Daily
Release Date: January 11, 2017
Keyword: gender, events, 2016
 
In the past 12 months in China, many gender-related social and cultural events have taken place in people's daily lives. Let us review them once more. 
 
A Strong Preference for Boys
 
'Luo Yixiao Accident' 
 
Luo Yixiao, 5, from Shenzhen, a city in south China's Guangdong Province, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in September and her condition worsened in earlier December. 
 
Her father, Luo Er, posted a heart-wrenching story about his daughter on Wechat, asking for financial help. The post went viral and more than 110,000 people donated 2.53 million yuan (U.S. $367,000) in a short time. 
 
However, it was reported that Luo Er owns an apartment in Shenzhen and two more properties in neighboring city Dongguan, which was not mentioned in his plea for help. 
 
Luo Er confirmed the reports, but told local media that the three apartments cannot be sold at present because one is left to his ex-wife and son, one to his current wife and the last one he intends to keep as support in his old age. 
 
The reports led to widespread doubt over his claimed inability to finance his daughter's medical expenses, with many netizens saying their kindness had been taken advantage of. 
 
Infanticide Event
 
A woman from Nantong in East China's Jiangsu Province wanted to have a grandson so she kept encouraging her daughter-in-law to give birth to a second child. However, when her daughter-in-law had a female baby last November, she was so angry that four days after her granddaughter was born, she killed the baby by stamping on her head. The woman was recently found guilty of murder by the local court and received a penalty of 10 years in prison, a light punishment in the eyes of many netizens.
 
According to China's Criminal Law, the penalty for murder should be capital punishment, life imprisonment, or 10 or more years in prison. 
 
The Nantong Intermediate People's Court said it gave her a light penalty because "she was forgiven by the relatives of the victim and the neighbors."
 
The attitude of the family and neighbors, as well as the result of the sentence, have aroused much resentment among the masses. Many people believed that a 10-year prison sentence was too light for a baby killer, while the forgiveness of her neighbors and relatives, including her daughter-in-law, shows a strong preference for boys and deep-seated gender bias. 
 
Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in the Workplace
 
In 2015, female chef Gao Xiao (pseudonym) filed a lawsuit against a Guangdong-based company for rejecting her job application as an apprentice chef on the basis of gender. After over a year's efforts, Gao finally received a formal apology from the employer in September 2016. 
 
Very few women work in the male-dominated culinary world, and fewer still are chefs. Even if not in a special industry such as the culinary world, women are still in a disadvantaged position in terms of employment, salary and promotion. 
 
Cases such as a female university student who was sexually assaulted by a male journalist during her internship in Nanfang Daily in June 2016, along with another sexual harassment case which occurred in China Minsheng Bank Corp Beijing Branch at the end of last year, show an imbalanced power relationship between men and women in the workplace. 
 
Women's Personal Safety in Public Areas 
 
In April 2016, the arrest of a man in connection with the alleged assault of a woman at a four-star hotel in Beijing led many people to discuss the case and the safety of women. 
 
The woman, 27, was a tourist from Zhejiang Province when the alleged incident happened. She wrote about it online, saying she was followed and attacked by the suspect in the Yitel Hotel in the Chaoyang District of the capital.
 
Video clips apparently recorded by hotel surveillance cameras show the man taking the same elevator as her and exiting on the same floor. He then appears to suddenly grab her, drag her and choke her, apparently covering her mouth to prevent her yelling.
 
Several people, including a hotel employee, are then seen passing by, but no one offers help until some guests finally realize what is happening and step in.
 
The incident caused many people to comment on the lack of willingness by many passers-by to get involved in such situations. Others have commented online about the importance of women learning self-defense.
 
The Performance of Women's Bodies
 
The United Nations on October 21 announced the fictional superhero Wonder Woman as its new honorary ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls and will be tasked with raising awareness about Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. 
 
But two months later, the superhero Wonder Woman lost her job as UN ambassador due to a protest. More than 44,000 people signed a petition that claimed the United Nations should reconsider the appointment, criticizing the character for not being a qualified spokesperson for women and girls. 
 
Her scanty clothing - "a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots" - meant that deploying her as a role model for the UN was culturally insensitive in many parts of the world, the petition added. 
 
It then happened that there was a similar case in London. A controversial weight-loss commercial in local subway with a "body shaming" remark, "Are You Beach Body Ready?" sparked a debate over its appropriateness. While in France, the ban on full-body 'burkini' swimsuits also reverberated around the world, with widely different reactions. 
 
About 70 years ago, women were forbidden from wearing a bikini on the beach and it was too immodest to be worn in public. But today, the bikini is celebrating its 70th anniversary and women who wear burkinis also face a similar dilemma because they wear too much and hence run counter to local culture. 
 
It cannot help but make people wonder whether it is a personal choice for women to decide what they want to wear?
 
Double Oppression of Gender and Social Class
 
At the beginning of last year, a young woman from Shanghai was thrust to the center stage of China's online discourse when she posted a message on a social media that she broke up with her boyfriend of one year after balking at the quality of food served by his rural family in southeast China's Jiangxi Province. The post immediately gained massive attention, igniting public discussions on love and wealth gaps. 
 
Another case occurred in August 2016.
 
Yang Gailan, a 28-year-old mother was accused of administering poison to her four kids aged from three to six, including a pair of five-year-old twins, before taking her own life on August 26.
 
It is argued that the suspect was herself a victim of poverty, having succumbed to despair as the destitute family led a life of frugality and misery.
 
The Trap of Consumerism
 
Also in 2016, online loan sharks in China found an unconventional way of guaranteeing loans -- they demanded female university students send nude photos of themselves holding their ID cards as collateral for high-interest loans. 
 
The private lenders threatened to make the photos public or send them to the young women's parents if they failed to repay their loans on time. 
 
It is worth noting that the majority of the loans they borrowed from the lenders were not used for emergencies, but for consumption, buying cosmetics, clothes, or even for plastic surgery. 
 
Therefore, the essence of illegal Internet products is to create a platform to exchange women's bodies with men's wealth. 
 
Epilogue
 
China has made great progress in the cause of gender equality in 2016. 
 
The promulgation of the country's first Anti-Domestic Violence Law in March 2016 marks a historic step for China in the protection of women and children's rights and interests. 
 
In addition, after a series of 'toilet revolutions' across the country, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China released the new criteria for the design of public toilets in November, increasing the number of women's washrooms. 
 
The proportion of female and male stalls will increase from 1:1 to 3:2, according to the new rules. In crowded areas, female stalls may be twice as many as that for males.
 
All of these achievements give us more faith and confidence in the cause of gender equality, although it still has a long way to go for real freedom and happiness. 
 
Let us wait and hope for a brighter future in 2017!

 

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