New York—A 25-year old kindergarten teacher unable to walk after being sexually assaulted with a broom in a Hebei labor camp (news). A once-brilliant Tsinghua University student driven to insanity by sexual abuse and rape (news). A woman from Hunan in her eighth month of pregnancy given a forced abortion and then sent to a prison camp for six years.
These are three of the reports the Falun Dafa Information Center received in the last year from friends and relatives of female Falun Gong practitioners in China. They represent only a small sample of abuses inflicted by the Chinese authorities on women who practice Falun Gong.
Nearly 12 years after the Communist Party launched its campaign to wipe out the spiritual group, violence against women remains one of the most common and egregious forms of human rights violation reported.
“The immoral acts that shocked my soul the most were the lewd yet routine practice of attacking women’s genitals by 6-10 Office staff and the police,” wrote prominent attorney Gao Zhisheng in a 2005 open letter to China’s leaders documenting his investigation into the torture of Falun Gong practitioners in Northeast China and calling for an end to the persecution. “Almost every woman’s genitals and breasts … have been sexually assaulted in the most vulgar fashion.”
Forms of abuse range from electric baton shocks to women’s breasts to sexual assault with sharp objects to forced abortions. Victims include both young college students and elderly grandmothers. Perpetrators are both male policemen and female labor camp guards.
Indeed, it is these features of the abuse that shed light on the root cause of such violence—not cultural norms or perverted wayward prison guards. Rather, in the case of Falun Gong, systematic sexual violence and humiliation of female detainees are rooted in Communist Party leaders’ orders to use any means necessary to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners.
Transformation—a euphemism for forcing practitioners to renounce Falun Gong and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party—has been at the core of the anti-Falun Gong campaign since its inception.
When Chinese authorities talk of “transforming” Falun Gong practitioners, in practice, this means torturing out of people the aspiration to be honest, kind, and tolerant. Healthy, rational people are tormented to the point where the victim either betrays his or her most deeply held beliefs and completely submits to the will of the Communist Party, dies from abuse, or is driven to the edge of sanity.
In order to accomplish the party’s goal of “transforming” every Falun Gong practitioner in China, lower-ranking officials and labor camp personnel are given quotas on the number of practitioners to “transform” annually. Trainings are held to disseminate so-called “successful” tactics and torture methods. Promotions and year-end bonuses are distributed to those most effective at “transforming” practitioners. Meanwhile, guards who are caught showing sympathy to tortured practitioners risk demotion and forced attendance at re-education classes of their own.
These carrots and sticks generate a perverse system that encourages a no holds barred approach to “transforming” female Falun Gong practitioners. The logic of this system is such that rather than releasing a pregnant woman from custody as required by Chinese law, officials give her a forced abortion or beat her to the point of miscarriage and then send her to a labor camp for “re-education.”
On International Women’s Day, the Falun Dafa Information Center thanks those around the world who have spoken out against these abuses and offered their help to the victims over the past year. At the same time, we urge the international community to redouble its efforts to investigate, condemn, and ultimately end the horrific violence being carried out against countless female Falun Gong practitioners at this very moment.
After all, these women are mothers, sisters and daughters. We should do everything in our power to protect them.
[Note: Recently released female victims of torture in Chinese custody are available for interview upon request.]
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