Women in China’s Xinjiang province have reportedly had their long tops and dresses cut by police in a continued campaign targeting ethnic Uighurs.
In an attempt to crack down on religious extremism, authorities in Xinjiang have targeted almost any form of religious expression by Uighur Muslims.
Women have been banned from wearing long skirts and burqas and residents barred from fasting during Ramadan, while hundreds of thousands – and possibly even 1 million – people have been sent to extrajudicial “re-education centers” for infringements like growing a beard, calling a loved one overseas or, in some cases, no apparent reason at all.
Now images on social media appear to show police stopping women and cutting their long skirts and dresses in the middle of the street, despite some women choosing to wear these for comfort rather than religion. One woman in the photos still has her helmet on, looking as though police may have pulled her over while she was riding her scooter.
— DOAM (@doamuslims) July 13, 2018
Although not all scissor-wielders in the photos are dressed like local police it appears they are all attempting to cut long dresses to sit around the hips.
Business Insider has not been able to independently verify these images, but Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, told Radio Free Asia that this is an “attack on Uighur women.”
“Nowhere in the world does a government keep itself busy with cutting off women’s dresses below their waist. This is absolutely ridiculous,” said Raxit.
“The international community should not allow China to humiliate Uighur women in such a way,” he said.
Women and men Uighurs around Xinjiang are also faced with extensive surveillance.
Authorities have installed surveillance apps on residents’ phones and begun collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types from residents aged between 12 and 65. They have also collected voice samples that may be used to identify who is speaking on tapped phone calls.
There’s also 40,000 facial-recognition cameras that are being used to track, and block, the movement of Uighurs in the region and AFP recently reported that 967 mosques in one Xinjiang county are getting security cameras to ensure imams follow a “unified” government script.