Uyghur Women Are China’s Victims—and Resistance


March 12, 2021

BEIJING—China’s campaign of repression against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang is brutal even by the standards of the worst authoritarian regimes. Since at least 2017, Beijing’s policies have included the mass internment of an estimated 1 million members of ethnic minorities, widespread surveillance, alleged forced labor, alleged forced abortions and sterilizations, the destruction of prayer sites and ethnic neighborhoods, and the desecration of burial sites. In January before leaving office, then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled China’s treatment of the Uyghurs a genocide. China says its campaign is a legitimate push against terrorism and separatism, after sporadic bouts of violence rocked the region in recent decades.

Women have found themselves the targets of some of Beijing’s cruelest tactics. Last year, researcher Adrian Zenz found the region poured $37 million into programs—featuring forced sterilizations and IUD implantations—meant to slash birth rates, which dropped 24 percent in 2019 in Xinjiang compared with 4.2 percent nationwide.

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