November 16, 2022
New research by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has found, based on evidence from Chinese state media and policy documents, government sanctioned profiles and testimonials, and accounts from women in the diaspora, that government incentivized and forced interethnic marriages have been occurring in the Uyghur Region since 2014.
The report, Forced Marriage of Uyghur Women: State Policies for Interethnic Marriage in East Turkistan, examines the Party-State’s role in promoting, incentivizing, and coercing interethnic marriage between Uyghur women and Han men in East Turkistan. We offer compelling evidence to show that the Chinese Party-State is actively involved in carrying out a campaign of forcefully assimilating Uyghurs into Han Chinese society by means of mixed marriages.
“This report brings to light another form of gender-based violence that demands action from concerned states, relevant UN agencies, and women’s groups,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director.
“The Chinese government targets women in its ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people. Uyghur women report routine sexual violence in China’s concentration camps and prisons, and evidence of the forced sterilization was integral to the genocide adjudication of the Uyghur Tribunal.”
The report documents Party-State policies and public messaging, incentive measures, and coercive practices related to Uyghur-Han marriages. Evidence includes state-approved online accounts of interethnic marriages and weddings; state-approved personal online testimonials from individuals in interethnic marriages; government statements and policy directives; and firsthand accounts of coerced and incentivized marriages from Uyghur women in the diaspora.
Forced and incentivized marriages in the Uyghur Region are forms of gender-based crimes that violate international human rights standards. Government policies incentivizing and coercing intermarriage and other gender based-abuse only further the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity being committed in East Turkistan.
Multiple governments and the United Nations have recognized that the human rights abuses in East Turkistan constitute or may constitute genocide and/or crimes against humanity.
UHRP urges the following action steps:
Analyses of gender-based violence against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples should include state-sponsored forced and incentivized marriage, and civil society, governments, and multilateral bodies should raise this form of state-sponsored forced marriage and sexual violence as a core element of ongoing atrocity crimes.
UHRP urges women’s rights advocacy campaigns to call for accountability and an end to forced and incentivized marriages suffered by Uyghur and other Turkic women.
UHRP urges the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to thoroughly examine evidence of gender-based crimes in its 2023 country review of China, and calls on the Chinese government to implement measures to effectively end and prevent such state-sponsored forced marriages and sexual violence.