Justice4Her – fighting GBV in China

Over 230 million Chinese migrant workers produce most of the products labelled ‘MADE IN CHINA’. Nearly one-third of them are women, and they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and gender-based violence (GBV) with nearly 70% not aware of their legal rights. RNW Media’s cross-sector project Justice4Her, works to strengthen the rule of law and reduce GBV against young women migrant workers (WMW) in China. Diverse online channels and offline activities aim to raise awareness of the issues, inform this vulnerable target group of their rights, amplify their voices and support their access to justice.

Justice4Her launched in 2016, targeting women migrant workers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong Province and was successful in winning funding from the European Commission in 2018, enabling the team to scale up their work. Chinese researchers have now carried out an external evaluation of the project and produced a report confirming its impact and effectiveness and outlining lessons learned for the future.

Significant results
Working together with strategic partner Qianqian Beijing Law Firm, Justice4Her, was able to increase access to justice for young WMW in China and achieve significant advocacy results within a short period of time.

Justice4Her 2.0 is a well-rounded project that has covered every quadrant of the Advocacy Coordinate Plane, influencing all targeted groups along the spectrum of awareness to will to action. The operation of the project is strongly supported by the comprehensive advocacy strategy since the project is cross-industrial and diversified. By working collaboratively with its cross-sector partners, Justice4Her 2.0 is able to make full use of its strengths.
-From the evaluation report by external independent agency Beijing Yesiin Consulting Co., LTD

A leading role
An important aspect of Justice4Her’s work was raising public awareness of GBV and gender-related issues. Content produced by the team has generated 633 million page-views and interactions (including likes, reposts and comments) via its digital platforms and social media channels. The team implemented 12 social media events to improve public awareness, including 10 online broadcasts and 2 online campaigns.

“Justice4Her 2.0 is definitely playing a leading role on WeChat and Weibo about gender-related issues. They are professional and also down to the earth. If there is a hot topic related to gender issues, I always turn to Justice4Her 2.0 for their comments on it.”
– Liu Tianhong from China Women’s News

Generating empathy
Engaging visual content included comics and infographics and the project also produced a number of ground-breaking videos. In two public service announcements (PSAs), Survivors and No Where to Hide, visual reality technology was used to enable people to ‘experience’ GBV from a child’s perspective and thus generate awareness and empathy. Influential Chinese sociologist, sexologist, and activist Li Yinhe was a fan of Survivors:

“I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw the film. People’s impression of domestic violence has been fixed on crying women and angry men, and they always forget the sad children being left alone… This VR video is offering us an opportunity to put ourselves in the victim’s shoes.” 

Legal support
With the support of EUAid, Justice4Her expanded its national network of pro-bono lawyers to provide aid and advice to women affected by GBV. Between 2018-2020, the 300 members of the network provided support to more than 3,000 WMW both in the form of online consultations and representing them in court. Twenty-eight cases were brought to Chinese courts, 54% of them resulting in a positive verdict – well above the national average. Some of these cases attracted national and international headlines.

The lawyers’ network was also mobilised to influence policy by responding rapidly to the opportunity to give feedback to provincial congresses on their regulations around the implementation of China’s anti-domestic violence laws. The lawyers formulated three proposals for the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Hubei and Guizhou provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and 17 of their legislative suggestions were accepted and adopted by the policy makers.

Building gender-sensitivity
Stigma around GBV can deter WMW from seeking legal redress and they often face secondary trauma due to victim blaming. Thus the project also focused on developing the quality of gender sensitive legal support and media coverage around GBV with specially designed trainings for lawyers and media and NGO professionals. Eighty-four lawyers from across China took part in legal trainings on GBV within a gender equality framework.

“The Justice4Her 2.0 project changed the way I did things. Attorney representation highly relies on the individual lawyer. This project (Justice4Her 2.0) made me feel that it needs to be done diversely and reasonably. Lawyers are only one part of it. Promoting a field, promoting a law, is never a heroic personal push. It will always be the joint force of all people.”
– Huang  Simin, lawyer

Reporting and campaigning
Trainings for media professionals focused on how to report on GBV in a non-judgmental, unbiased and factual manner and on understanding how to avoid “Secondary Trauma”. NGO professionals were trained on how to set up successful anti-GBV media campaigns, strengthening their capacity in new media usage, communication advocacy and innovative campaigning interventions.

“Experience sharing from the trainers on reporting gender issues is very practical for a rookie like me. And it also allows me to reflect on whether the news reporting framework itself is gender-friendly or not.”
-Chen Yifan, intern journalist of Caixin

“It is important for every reporter to understand basic rules for reporting sexual assault cases. I will apply them in related practices in the future.”
– Mei Xing from Beijing IRI Internet Technology Co., Ltd.

Lessons learned and best practices from the trainings have been collected into two comprehensive handbooks – one for journalists and editors on how to cover GBV and another outlining best practice for lawyers in GBV cases.

Sharing lessons learned
To mark the end of the work funded by EUAid, we will be holding an open webinar to look back at some of the learnings, challenges and best practices of this project, and share thoughts with interested stakeholders. The webinar will take place on Friday, 5 February 2021, from 11:00 to 12:00. If you’d like to join us online, please register your participation via this link.

Click to download a summary of the report J4H External Evaluation Report Summary.