Tangshan stripped of 'civilized' status after assault sparks China outrage over male violence

Tangshan stripped of ‘civilized’ status after assault sparks China outrage over male violence

A Chinese city has been stripped of its honorary “civilized” status after a group of men beat up four women outside a restaurant this month.

The assault in Tangshan, in the northern province of Hebei, was caught on closed-circuit television and drew widespread condemnation, renewing a national discussion about misogyny and violence against women.

A hashtag on the Weibo social networking site referencing the incident has been viewed hundreds of millions of times. Hundreds of thousands of people commented after videos of the attack were posted online, many calling for justice.

And on Wednesday, the Civilization Office of the Communist Party Central Committee removed the city from the nation’s honorary list of “civilized cities.”

The “national civilized cities” are selected based on eight criteria, including good social order and a healthy and ascending social atmosphere, according to the bureau’s official website. Tangshan has received the status four times since 2011, most recently in 2020.

The committee’s decision is the latest in a series of official responses to the attack and the waves of anger it has sparked online. The Hebei Provincial Security Authority launched a disciplinary review and investigation into the Tangshan Police Bureau’s response to the incident on Tuesday.

Camera footage from the barbecue restaurant on June 10 showed a man slapping and dragging a woman into the street by her hair after she appeared to rebuff his advances. Later, other men joined, assaulted their companions and left two women lying on the side of the street.

Two of the women remain hospitalized in intensive care, authorities said this week, while authorities said they had arrested nine people in connection with the attack.

Images of the violent attack went viral. via Twitter

“The incident of the group beating of women in Tangshan is shocking,” the ruling Communist Party publication People’s Daily wrote on Weibo shortly after the incident was made public. “Not only does it defy the law, but it also challenges the social order and the public’s sense of security.”

Since then, state media reports have framed the attack in terms of a gang war and focused on the need for public safety, largely avoiding discussions of gender-based violence.

But the attack has renewed attention on the issue, as a fledgling women’s rights movement struggles to take root under authoritarian rule in Beijing.

“The rise in awareness of women’s rights in China is quite rapid, faster than many other countries, so I think the sense of threat from men is especially acute,” Yaqiu Wang told NBC News. Senior China Researcher at Human Rights Watch. .

Images of a middle-aged woman chained to the wall of a shack by her neck in rural China in February ignited a national debate about protecting women from domestic abuse, while a nascent wave of #MeToo spread. stalled after a Chinese court ruled against a woman in a high-profile case last September.

An imbalance in gender rights persists despite China’s laws guaranteeing equal rights for women, but the Tangshan incident shows the movement is still growing, activists say.

“We see in this case that many people are not satisfied,” said Feng Yuan, director of Beijing Equality, a women’s rights and gender equality non-governmental organization. “We especially need many people, including the judiciary, the media and the public, to see that gender-based violence is gender-based violence, and that gender-based violence should not be seen simply as a general social security incident,” she said. additional.

“More women are expressing their own voices, which makes me feel optimistic about the changes,” she said. “But our voices need to be heard, which is very difficult.”

Janis Mackey Frayer contributed.

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