Chinese officials locked up ten women so they couldn't protest sexual harassment in the country on Sunday, International Women's Day. But you're reading about their plans now, so it looks like the arrests had the opposite effect the government was hoping for.

On Friday, according to the New York Times, Beijing police picked up Li Tingting, also known as Li Maizi, and another activist in Guangzhou, Zheng Churan. Wei Tingting and Wang Man were also taken into custody by Beijing police. Li Tingting made her name in 2012—perhaps drawing a bit from Florynce R. "Flo" Kennedy's "pee-in"—campaigning for more public women's toilets.

Lawyers for the women attempted to learn information on their charges and whereabouts but police refused to answer any questions, even denying that the women were being held at all. Ironically, the arrests took place on the second day of the annual National People's Congress, a legislature aimed to encourage open participation in the country's political decisions, despite the Chinese Communist Party's system.

The group were planning to kick off a national campaign against sexual harassment on trains and all public transportation, including pasting anti-harassment stickers to cars, on Sunday.

"The attack this time is a big deal for us because the people who have been taken away formed the growing core of our movement these last few years," said a young woman in Beijing who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also out of fear of official retribution. "They are the core strength of the women's activist movement."

President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on activists like the aforementioned women, and any "civic discourse in China," making it tougher for groups to gain traction and foster any real change since assuming power in 2012. He's even banned the popular documentary Under the Dome, which chronicles China's serious air pollution problems. Elsewhere in the country, women only hold one in ten board membership positions in the top 300 companies and there are just two women among the country's 25 ruling communist party seats.

Image via AP.


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