List of Issues Submission to the United Nations CEDAW Committee During its Periodic Review of China

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February 1, 2021

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has submitted a report for consideration by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in preparation for the Committee’s examination of the 9th periodic report of China.

The submission draws on our own research, firsthand testimonies, and additional reporting on the Uyghur crisis relating to the field of women’s rights. The report makes recommendations to be raised with China during the 80th Pre-Sessional Working Group in March 2021 in relation to articles 7, 11, 12, 13, and 14 of the Convention.

In particular, the UHRP raises the following issues with the Committee:

  • Right to participation in public and cultural life: The Chinese government has implemented restrictions on Uyghur cultural and religious expression and practices for Uyghur women. Constraints on büwi—female Uyghur religious leaders—have increased substantially in recent years; Uyghur women have been prohibited from wearing long skirts or any sort of veils or body coverings; and the government has invested in campaigns to compel Uyghur women to wear certain clothing in an effort to manage and control cultural expression.
  • Forced labor: Many Uyghur women have been subjected to forced labor, some who had previously been detained in internment camps, or are forced to live in dormitories while they are forced to work in factories nearby. The conditions in these forced-labor facilities endanger Uyghur women’s health and violate their rights to safe working and living conditions.
  • Forced sterilizations: Since at least 2016, the government of China has made efforts to purposely reduce the birthrate of Uyghur women through coercive family planning—including the forced sterilization of women. Birth rates among Uyghur women plummeted from 2015–2018, with population growth in East Turkistan falling by over 84 percent in that period in the two largest Uyghur prefectures.
  • Right to education: In 2017, the Hotan Prefecture Education Department banned the use of the Uyghur language “at all education levels up to, and including secondary school, in favor of Mandarin.” The government of China’s implementation of ‘bilingual education’ programs in East Turkistan beginning in the mid-1980s has intentionally weakened teaching and the use of the Uyghur language.
  • Non-discrimination: The Chinese government has failed to provide disaggregated data showing disparities between ethnic groups, despite repeated recommendations from the Committee. Uyghurs suffer substantially higher unemployment rates than Chinese due to exclusion by state and private employers, as well as through discriminatory hiring practices.
  • Adequate standard of living: Uyghurs are often disproportionately excluded from development because they reside predominantly in the south and in rural areas, whereas Chinese are more heavily concentrated in northern, urban areas, which sees the benefits of regional development.

The report provides detailed information on each of these issues, and demonstrates that the Chinese government has taken far from adequate steps to address these issues in response to the Committee’s Concluding Observations from their combined 7th and 8th periodic review in 2014.

Read a PDF of the report here.