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Stand in Solidarity with Hong Kong Women’s Rights Defenders – Radio Free Asia Support Needed

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the rights of women globally and highlight the inspiring women in Hong Kong who have bravely fought for equal rights and freedoms amidst an increasingly intolerant government. Women human rights defenders in Hong Kong face gender-based challenges and restrictions that push them to employ alternative strategies in their activism to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

During the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, young women played a prominent role and unfortunately, many experienced gender-based and sexual violence, including incidents of assault and harassment by the police. Despite few cases being prosecuted and the lack of accountability for perpetrators, these women continue to persevere in fighting for democracy and rights in Hong Kong.

In a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 2023, I highlighted statistics, case studies, and interviews with women human rights defenders in Hong Kong who shared their experiences of gender-based violence. It is alarming to discover that such violations are normalized, with limited avenues for accountability, but it is also inspiring to witness the resilience of these strong women.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has raised concerns about women’s rights in Hong Kong and urged the government to hold perpetrators accountable and protect women’s rights. However, a year later, these recommendations remain unimplemented, reflecting a lack of seriousness towards women’s rights in Hong Kong.

One remarkable woman deserving of support on this day is Chow Hang-tung, a dedicated activist and lawyer facing serious violations to her rights, including arbitrary detention and potential charges for her peaceful activism. Despite these challenges, Chow remains a beacon of hope, symbolizing the unwavering spirit of those who oppose the Hong Kong government and Chinese Communist Party.

Many more women in Hong Kong are unjustly detained, including political prisoners arrested under repressive laws like the National Security Law. The recent Safeguarding National Security Bill further threatens human rights, particularly women’s rights, in Hong Kong, prompting strong opposition from human rights defenders.

On this International Women’s Day, we stand in solidarity with the brave women of Hong Kong who have fought tirelessly for equality and freedom amidst adversity. Anouk Wear, a research and policy advisor at Hong Kong Watch, emphasizes the importance of recognizing and supporting these women in their ongoing struggle for rights and democracy.

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