As America continues her inevitable march towards deeper degrees of independence and opportunity for all of her citizens, I am reminded constantly of the myriad challenges women face around the world. As the CEO of Girl Justice, a women's empowerment charity, I am constantly reminded of the continuous struggle for women's rights abroad and at home. And while no country is flawless in the context of empowering women, one country stood out as a consistent and significant abuser of women's rights: China.
Within the context of women's rights, the most significant of issues for women in China is most certainly the sexual exploitation of women. Case in point - China has a damning history of encouraging the illegal trafficking of women through borders with neighboring countries. Between 20,000 and 30,000 North Korean women are currently entrapped in China, women which had been kidnapped from homes and sold into sex slavery in China at a cost of just $300 per woman to their Chinese enslavers.
Yet China's sex exploitation sector has undergone an unfortunate boom, with tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of exploited sex workers streaming both to and from China from around the world. Unfortunately, true and specific data on numbers of exploited sex workers in China are not available, as China refuses to release accurate statistics regarding the extent of its sexual exploitation of women. More on the subject below.
According to the United States of America's State Department 2014 Trafficking In Human Persons Report, women are continuuously trafficked as a result of a dark and shadowy sex-trafficking-oriented criminal syndicate economy which includes Chinese sex slaves sold to Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, and France among many other countries. And a major portion of this sex exploitation economy includes women brought into China from neighboring countries and other countries in the globe.
The situation worsens when you consider how China actually has no official law prohibiting prostitution for young women between the ages of 14 and 18. Such a callous disregard for the protection, safety, and security of women in China is unconscionable and must be remedied by any and all means in order to fully protect the rights not just of Chinese women but of the millions of women around the world sold into the booming sex exploitation industry in China.
Unfortunately, the sexual exploitation of women in China goes far deeper than tens of thousands of women sold into the Chinese sex exploitation sector. Rape in China is also a major social issue confronting women in China, with women walking the streets in continuous fear of Chinese men. The majority of rapes in China are social rapes, which contributes even more deeply to the persistent fear Chinese women feel regarding their physical and sexual safety.
Even more notable is the point made by a prominent international sociologist, commenting how only one in ten rape cases in China
are reported. Such a staggering comment supports the notion of China as a closed society where women are not only socially and financially oppressed (to say nothing of the significant female infanticide problem) but also sexually violated as well.
China's history has been extraordinarily troubling, with a weakening patriarchy which seeks to create significant stigmas where a Chinese woman often feels responsible for her rape, and where a Chinese woman feels her family's name has been tarnished because of the rape. Such a notion is confirmed in the book Sexual Violence and Abuse: an Encyclopedia of Prevention, Impacts, and Recovery. Author Judy L. Postmus notes, "When facing sexual violence, Chinese victims tend to believe that women should be held responsible for preventing violence."
In America, our own national conversation has shifted significantly in recent months in the direction of consent with high profile domestic violence issues such as the Ray Rice scandal. Yet while America heals and commits fully to treating her women with dignity, independence, and respect, Chinese men continue to beat their wives and girlfriends at unconscionable rates. In fact, a full 34% of Chinese women reported being hit in their current relationship. And keeping in mind the continuous tendency amongst Chinese women to under-report acts of sexual exploitation and sexual violence, the number of women suffering from abuse at the hands of sexual partners is most likely even more significant.
The stories of sexual exploitation and assault in China at an individual level are equally staggering. The Huffington Post commented just three years ago of a sexual abuser named Li Hao, a man which dug dungeons and then forced women to be his sex slaves before murdering two of the women. That a Chinese reporter was threatened by local authorities not to report the case underscores the problem of a totalitarian government protecting sex abusers, murderers and assaulters in order to maintain a false grip on power.
Another woman named Zhou Qin was raped in Guizhou province, and was dismissed by local authorities on the grounds of sex with a condom as by definition not rape. China must end its consistent policy of protecting sexual exploiters, rapists, and sexual abusers at the expense of Chinese
Ultimately, the conversation about sexual exploitation in China is a nod to the continuous need to communicate and converse regarding the broader issue of sexual exploitation around the world. No woman in any country should be sexually exploited. But when this American sees unconscionable amounts of sexual exploitation in China, both in quantity and in horrific detail, I am compelled to make a statement to as broad an audience as possible. China must end its sexual exploitation of women. Period.