New leader dims hopes for progressive politics in Hong Kong

1 week ago 68

Analysis by Jessie Lau for CNN

Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT) May 5, 2022

This communicative is portion of As Equals, CNN's ongoing bid connected sex inequality. For accusation astir however the bid is funded and more, cheque retired our FAQs.

(CNN)On May 8, Hong Kong is expected to usher successful a caller leader: John Lee, a constabulary veteran-turned-security chief who volition run, unopposed, for the city's apical presumption arsenic the lone campaigner backed by China's ruling party.

The prime to endorse Lee -- a hardline information authoritative known for overseeing dense crackdowns connected the city's monolithic pro-democracy protests successful 2019 and who has little policymaking experience erstwhile compared to the city's past leaders -- suggests that national information whitethorn proceed to beryllium prioritized supra each else successful the years to come.

Activists and scholars besides accidental the determination volition lone further hinder civilian liberties and quality rights, including 1 that has already travel nether fire: the city's embattled sex movement.

"If John Lee adopts the Mainland China exemplary of managing civilian society, this whitethorn bring astir a further onslaught of Hong Kong's erstwhile vibrant civilian society," says Diana Fu, Associate Professor of governmental subject astatine the University of Toronto. "In the mainland model, civilian nine groups that advocator for wide rights -- including sex equality -- are seen arsenic conduits of Western influence."

"Gender consciousness has to beryllium promoted from the bottommost up," said Petula Ho, a section feminist scholar. "But it's similar the full of nine has fixed up connected this issue."

The past respective years have not been bully for feminism and sex rights successful Hong Kong. The pro-democracy protests that rocked the metropolis besides saw women protestors reportedly trolled online and sparked #ProtestToo, a uncommon #MeToo-style sub-movement wherever thousands gathered pursuing allegations of intersexual battle by the police. One complaint, filed by a teen who accused officers of pack rape during the protests, was dropped by the Department of Justice due to "contrary evidence."

While praised for the progressive engagement of women protesters, the pro-democracy question itself has besides been criticized for sexism. Female authorities officials, constabulary officers and critics of the movement faced sexualized insults and threats; frontline women protesters were idealized arsenic martyrs, which immoderate feminists person condemned arsenic it presents women arsenic lone being of worth successful their sacrifice.

"[The pro-democracy movement] has this populist constituent which has made it much patriarchal and much hard for diverseness and sex issues to exist," said Ho, who has researched these dynamics and told CNN she's faced attacks connected societal media for her critiques.

Beijing's crackdown connected Hong Kong has made it much hard to advocator for immoderate causes, fto unsocial gender-related ones.

Since the implementation of the nationalist information instrumentality successful 2020, implicit 50 civilian nine groups, from commercialized and teachers unions to pupil organizations, have disbanded. And much than 180 people (including activists and pro-democracy figures who person advocated for sex issues) person been arrested since the instrumentality was enacted successful June 2020, according to a tracker tally by ChinaFile magazine.

Pro-democracy protesters being arrested by constabulary  during a clash astatine  a objection  successful  Wan Chai territory  connected  October 6, 2019 successful  Hong Kong. (Photo by Amthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Following an overhaul of the city's electoral strategy to guarantee loyalty to the Chinese state, pro-Beijing lawmakers and councilors present dominate the city's legislature. After the reforms, much than 200 territory councilors person either resigned oregon been disqualified and galore person been arrested connected nationalist information grounds, forcing retired astir each opposition.

Those ousted see Tiffany Yuen, a erstwhile territory councilor with a inheritance of promoting women's rights and Raymond Chan, Hong Kong's archetypal lawmaker who publically identified arsenic gay, arsenic good arsenic 3 different cheery and lesbian territory councilors.

Kenneth Cheung, 1 of those councilors, democratically elected into bureau by voters successful 2019 earlier helium was disqualified by authorities, said the expulsion of pro-democracy politicians volition further trim avenues for sex advocacy successful the government.

Cheung said galore researchers and bureau unit moving connected gender-related initiatives with pro-democracy lawmakers are present unemployed, and determination is present less progressive practice connected these issues successful nationalist forums. The closing of progressive media outlets specified arsenic Stand News has already weakened sum connected these topics, helium added.

"When I look up astatine the adjacent 5 to 10 years, I consciousness depressed," Cheung said, explaining that ideology and progressive causes are intrinsically

linked. "Before, antiauthoritarian politicians would rise issues astir marginalized communities oregon invitation questions. In the coming era, we astir apt won't spot this anymore."

Political changes person besides hampered the sex activism of Lily Wong, a enactment activistic and erstwhile subordinate of the now-disbanded pro-democracy radical Demosisto. In 2020, Wong co-founded a YouTube transmission exploring sex-related topics called "Faan Hou ABC," with Yuen and different pro-democracy activistic Ho Ka-yau.

The transmission initially took disconnected owed to its pro-democracy stances, but was capable to seizure a wider assemblage by linking issues astir enactment and sex to ideology and wide values.

"Compared to the 2014 Umbrella Movement, much women were accepted connected the frontlines successful 2019, which was a large change," Wong told CNN, adding that portion she too, similar Ho, condemned the sexist behaviour by immoderate protesters, the question did positively power people's attitudes towards women successful different ways. "Although issues similar sex were secondary, I deliberation these secondary issues inactive progressed."

When Yuen was charged with allegedly violating nationalist information past year, however, the women unopen down the channel. "In the coming years, I deliberation radical volition beryllium much cautious erstwhile it comes to engaging with governmental causes," Wong said.

CNN enactment to the authorities the issues of shrinking civilian nine space, Carrie Lam's grounds connected sex initiatives and the allegations of intersexual assualt by the police.

"The allegation is nary further from the truth," a authorities spokesperson told CNN, adding that the rights of Hong Kong residents are "protected successful accordance with the law" but that "many freedoms and rights are not absolute, and tin beryllium restricted for reasons including extortion of nationalist information and nationalist safety."

In effect to allegations of constabulary misconduct, the spokesperson said instrumentality enforcement agencies instrumentality actions based connected "evidence," are liable for maintaining nationalist safety, and volition "exercise nonrecreational judgement to instrumentality due actions, including utilizing the minimum unit arsenic necessary."

No remark was made astir the out-going leader, Lam.

Hong Kong, inactive waiting for its feminist uprising

The aboriginal for progressive authorities whitethorn look bleak now. But erstwhile it comes to feminism and sex equality, Hong Kong has agelong been a challenging environment.

Unlike successful different parts of the world, the #MeToo question failed to get mainstream acceptance here. Hong Kong has performed good connected immoderate sex equality metrics. The 2021 report from the Women's Commission -- acceptable up to beforehand the improvement of women successful Hong Kong -- shows that implicit the past decennary women outnumbered men successful higher acquisition programs funded by the University Grants Committee, and that their information successful immoderate fields and nonrecreational roles had besides grown.

However, galore feminists accidental higher practice has not translated into genuine equality and nine remains profoundly patriarchal.

Take intersexual unit which Hong Kong's Women's Foundation described arsenic a "pervasive, profoundly concerning problem". A 2021 survey by the Hong Kong Women's Coalition connected Equal Opportunities recovered that astir 40% of respondents (37.5%) accidental they experienced intersexual unit successful their beingness -- up from 15% erstwhile the survey was past conducted successful 2013. Fear of being blamed and not believed were reportedly 2 of the main reasons victims don't question help.

The Women's Foundation, citing authorities figures, besides published an infographic successful 2019 that included details specified arsenic "only 55% of women are successful the workforce" and "Hong Kong has a sex wage spread of 22%"

In fashionable culture, sexist tropes, specified arsenic the stereotype of the "Kong girl" -- a pistillate from Hong Kong who is materialistic and pampered -- besides proceed to proliferate.

Even erstwhile the metropolis had a pistillate main executive, Carrie Lam, fewer saw her tenure arsenic a triumph for women's rights. Not lone did Lam place the contented of sex successful her nationalist addresses passim her clip successful office, she has besides been accused of using the information that she is simply a mother to deflect disapproval of her actions.

"She utilized her representation to warrant definite actions and contiguous herself arsenic a bully mother, arsenic if by virtuousness of being a parent that [a positive] accusation is there," Ho told CNN. "But past of people radical truly don't deliberation she's motherly astatine all, she is idiosyncratic who we deliberation is against morals of care."

Some mightiness accidental that Hong Kong successful caller times has seen much advancement connected LGBTQ+ issues than connected women's rights, but China's hardening stance connected LGBTQ+ activism connected the mainland has besides started to trickle down into Hong Kong politics, sparking concerns implicit a caller surge successful conservatism.

In the tally up to the Gay Games -- an planetary sporting, arts and civilization lawsuit organized for the LGBTQ+ assemblage -- immoderate pro-Beijing lawmakers person condemned the event which is owed to instrumentality spot successful November 2023, calling it a "threat to nationalist security" and a guise done which to beforehand governmental causes.

While the LGBTQ+ assemblage has seen immoderate legal victories successful caller years, the metropolis has nary ineligible protections against favoritism connected the ground of intersexual predisposition and sex identity, and same-sex matrimony has yet to beryllium legalized. "I'm truly concerned. The concern is getting worse," says Alvin Cheung, a cheery activistic and societal worker.

Despite the much repressive governmental atmosphere, determination are inactive tiny groups and individuals creating harmless spaces to speech astir sex and sexuality, peculiarly online, according to Grace Ting, adjunct prof of sex studies astatine the University of Hong Kong.

Ming Chan, a transgender activistic successful her 20s, is 1 of them. In 2020, she helped co-found Quarks, a trans and non-binary younker enactment radical that present has immoderate 2,700 followers connected societal media.

Chan says immoderate communities similar hers are thriving, due to the fact that aft the pro-democracy movement, much radical are realizing that they tin interaction nine successful antithetic ways.

"I'm fortunate to person specified a space," Chan told CNN. "I judge immoderate of the energies generated from the governmental question person been transferred to the sex equality and feminist movement, due to the fact that it's a tract wherever you tin inactive bash something."

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Ma Anand Sheela successful  1987. (Photo by Reto Hügin/RDB/ullstein bild/Getty Images)

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Ma Anand Sheela was comparatively chartless to galore beyond India and the US, anterior to the merchandise of the 2018 six-part Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country.

The piece, showed her arsenic the fearless close manus and idiosyncratic caput of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (also known arsenic Osho), laminitis of the Rajneesh movement, which attracted devotees from astir the satellite to its basal successful the Oregon desert. The question is present mostly known for a bid of transgression activities it conducted, including one of America's largest migration frauds and the largest bioterror onslaught successful the country, orchestrated by Sheela. Despite this, she inactive maintains a following.

Born Sheela Ambalal Patel into a affluent Mumbai household successful India, Ma Anand Sheela studied linguistics astatine Baroda University, India and Art astatine Montclair State College successful New Jersey, where she met her archetypal husband, Marc Silverman. She joined 3 times.

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She is present described arsenic the mastermind down Rajneesh's dealings and admits to Australia's 60 Minutes to being the 1 with the quality to enactment his "dreams and vision" into practice.

In 1984, Sheela orchestrated a large-scale bioterror attack, contaminating the crockery bars astatine 10 restaurants successful Oregon successful anticipation of rendering radical incapable to ballot and assistance sway a region predetermination successful favour of the cult's ain candidates. The attack, sickened 751 radical and enactment 45 successful hospital.

In 1986, she was charged with migration fraud, attempted murder, wiretapping and conspiracy to tamper with user products. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years successful prison, according to a Swiss Info report. She was released for bully behaviour aft 39 months, paid a $470,000 good and was deported, according to an Associated Press report.

She currently lives successful Switzerland wherever she runs 2 residential homes for radical with intelligence illnesses.

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