Press Forward honors women journalists and leaders of the #MeToo movement in China, including Huang Xueqin, for the IWMF’s #journoheroes month. Many have faced intimidation and threats by the Chinese government for their activism, and been placed under arrest at times over the last few years.
Huang Xueqin, a 30-year-old former journalist, was recently detained by Chinese police in the city of Guangzhou. Police charged her with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Huang shared her experience of sexual harassment in the workplace in 2017, and last year conducted an online survey of 2,000 women journalists about their experiences of harassment in the workplace. In her survey, 60 percent of respondents said they did not tell people about the harassment they experienced because they feared consequences for speaking publicly about the topic.
“I used to ask people’s opinions about #MeToo on Facebook, and got lots of support for advocating for the movement… However I found in China, under the conservative social climate, Chinese females tend to be less willing to voice their opinions publicly on this issue,” Huang said in an interview on Chinese television about the survey.
Huang’s report found more than 80 percent of female journalists had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I think prevention and education is needed… because some things are kind of still a taboo for Chinese people to talk about – it’s absolutely not the topic you are going to talk about with your parents, so we don’t get the education from family, and even in university there is not that much about sex education,” Huang said, according to The Hong Kong Free Press.
Her report recommended that media companies “take the lead in establishing anti-sexual harassment mechanisms in the workplace, including prevention, education, investigation and confidential counseling,” the HKFP reports.
Huang is one of several women’s rights activists detained by the Chinese government in recent years. Five were detained just before International Women’s Day in 2015, also on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” They had planned demonstrations across the country against sexual harassment, and after their arrest, became known as the “feminist five.”
Press Forward honors Huang, women journalists and activists throughout China who continue to bravely campaign for women’s rights.