Plight of Uighur Muslim Women in China

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    Shantanu Mukharji

    The misery faced by the Uighur Muslims in China is universally well known drawing all round condemnation, but the plight of the Uighur women on the atrocities perpetrated by the Chinese authorities have recently started coming under sharp focus in a very vibrant manner.

    Very lamentably, the Uighur minority women in China are never able to exercise their freedom of speech, their right to eat the food of their choice, right to freedom of expression, right to dress according to their liking or even the most elementary aspect of using the social media without any pre conditions.

    It’s a sad commentary on the prevailing status of Uighur women that many are interred in detention camps subject to excesses and violation of their privacy and fundamental rights. Many have been put to forced medical tests in an apparent bid to tamper with their genealogical data. One of the Uighur detainees managed to smuggle out a clandestine interview to one of the media houses in the West, which revealed gory details about the highhandness imposed over the hapless Muslim women. This alerted the international women’s and human rights’ groups all over the world to castigate China for its inhuman actions.

    Knowledgeable sources allege with authority and conviction that China is looking hellbent upon to prevent birthrates singling out Uighur women and this apart, the authorities feel that to eradicate a people or a particular race, it must destroy its women. Such a thought sounds harsh but that’s exactly what China is doing as a design to harm the Uighur women. Their dignity is hurt but the autocratic regime in Beijing or the Chinese Communist Party is completely indifferent to this sensitivity.

    Those who were involved in the preparation of the draft of the Genocide Convention and the lawyers, who helped shape the doctrine of crimes against humanity, reckon that non lethal atrocities are disproportionately perpetrated against Uighur women. Chinese Acts designed to prevent births and forcible transfer of children from their families could constitute genocide. Similarly rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation and sexual violence, each constitutes a crime against humanity. That’s precisely what’s happening in China targeting the Uighur women, whose voice remains stifled due to intimidatory laws and flexing of muscles. The draconian laws are appalling. On the other hand, Han Chinese are encouraged to produce more children to upset the demography in the western province of Xinjiang. Some experts rightly describe this as a xenophobic genocide. Also, there is a concerted attempt to erase Uighur culture and identities for remaking its women. This even amounts to crime against humanity.

    Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to be muted towards the plight of the Uighur women lest it annoyed its Chinese masters, there are allegations by certain quarters that Muslim women in India are subject to excesses and no one raises any voice against it. The fact is in India, Muslim women wear the dress of their choice, enjoy sufficient liberty with freedom of speech and other elementary rights. They are seen working in the government, in public and private sectors, medicine, engineering, academics, hospitality industry, politics, sports and represent in all the key sectors without facing any discrimination. So comparing status of Indian Muslim women with the Uighur Muslim women in China is not even worth an exercise. It’s a Chinese sponsored propaganda tirade to divert attention from the fact about the dismal scene of the Muslim minority women in China. It’s, therefore, high time the Chinese do something to restore the dignity of the Muslim women in Xinjiang, who continue to suffer for no fault of theirs.

    (Writer is a security analyst and a freelance columnist on geo political issues. Views are personal.)

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