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Dana Zhang, presentation at the panel held by ILGA and RFSL at the 57th session of the CSW

\nUsing our own bodies to conveying the message regarding domestic violence\nStrategies of resistance: Combating violence against lesbian, bisexual and trans women\nMonday 4 March 2013\n

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

7th March 2013 18:03

Alessia Valenza

Good afternoon everyone.
First I want to thank ILGA for providing me this opportunity to share our stories here.

I am Dana from Chinese Lala Alliance, in short, CLA, and Common Language in China. Today I will tell you how LBT people in China have resisted violence against women..
CLA was founded in 2008, is a regional network of lesbian, bisexual, trans grassroots organizations and individual community builders in Chinese speaking society across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Diaspora. Established as a membership-based network, CLA aims to amplify the voices of these often invisible, under-resourced, and marginalized communities. And violence against women is one of the most important issues that CLA has been focusing on.
Common Language, founded in January 2005, is a community-based support and rights group for lesbian, bisexual women and trans people (LBT) in China.

The violence against women in China has begun to get attention, especially since the fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Bejing, 1995. However, the Lala, which means LBT people in China, have benefited little from the progress due to their invisibility in Chinese mainstream culture. Actually, the violence against Lala takes a dismaying variety of forms in current China, including family violence, economic violence, political violence, discourse violence and culture violence of patriarchy.
As I have limited time, I only take family violence as an example. In China, domestic violence has been seen as a traditional family issue and little interest had been directed at violence in same-sex relationships before Common language did a research about domestic violence in Lala communities. Besides the abuse from their partners, the Lala also suffer the marriage pressure from their parents as influenced by traditional Chinese value, the economic pressure from their husbands or boyfriend, and the violence associated with it. However, there is little relevant protections from both the government and the law. From this simple example, we can see, the violence that Lala in China are suffering includes not only some specific violence against sexual minority groups, but also some those typical violence against women..

Since November 2012, an advocacy event with over ten thousand participants has taken place to urge the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to legislate domestic violence. LBT groups and individuals have actively and uniquely participated in this event, and have demonstrated expressively by playing both roles of being a victim suffering from domestic violence and being an anti-domestic violence champion.
The series of nude photos I am showing you here were taken during the event and were posted on the internet by people in the photo themselves, for the purpose of conveying the message regarding domestic violence. However, since most of these brave young people are from our LBT community, more complicated and important issues have been brought into public besides violence against women.

In some photos, they express their anger, which are written on their nude bodies like, “Domestic violence is not just personal matters, rights for women is part of human rights”, “No excuse for domestic violence, no matter who or what I love”, “Pride for Flat-chest, Shame for domestic violence”, “Though I’m sissy, you can’t hit me”.
In other photos, their bodies are covered by blood or sanitary towel, which highlights the close relationship between domestic violence and body. What’s more, some trans people also join this and showed their body with pride.

This has never happened before. Probably it is the first time for LBT people in China to fight with violence outside LBT communities. More importantly, we can see Lala full of power in this public movement, full of power who were supposed to be invisible. We believe that this is only a start for lesbians to participate in resisting violence against women. In the coming future, CLA and Common Language, will continue to actively play our own role as LBT people in women movement and explore more strategies in our work. For example, Common Language has introduced IDAHO into China, and kept promoting relevant advocacy activities, and over 30 cities in China joined IDAHO this year. And CLA will cooperate with SIDA to conduct a series of workshop on feminism this year.

This is the end of my presentation, thank you for listening. If you are interested in further discussion, please do not hesitate to ask.

You can see the photos related to the present presentation in the word document attached


See also overview of ILGA/RFSL panel, click HERE

See the photos of the panel on ILGA’s Facebook, click HERE