The Guangzhou Gender and Sexuality Education Center (GSEC), a leading non-profit organization in China dedicated to combating sexual violence and promoting gender equality, is shutting down as of today, according to a post published on its official WeChat account.
The announcement (in Chinese) reads,
“The Guangzhou Gender and Sexuality Education Center has ceased operations effective December 6, 2018. This account will no longer publish articles starting today. The remaining tips and donations received by this WeChat account will be used for assisting victims of sexual violence. We are grateful for you support and encouragement regarding our anti-sexual harassment work in the past few years.”
Founded in 2016, the center is one of the leading organizations in China with a focus on gender issues and women’s rights. GSEC’s mission was to “advocate rights for and amplify voices from the socially disadvantaged groups who face discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, raise awareness on subjects including sexual assault, and drive changes in public policies to prevent sexual harassment and violence,” as stated on the introduction page of the institution.
The closure is not entirely surprising given the government’s tightening control over public discussion about women’s rights and non-profit organizations working on this front. In March, Feminist Voices 女权之声 nǚquán zhīshēng, China’s most prominent feminist social media outlet, was forcibly shut down.
Earlier this year, GSEC also found itself in trouble for seeking donations for a survey on sexual assault in Chinese colleges (in Chinese). In an interview with Qdaily.com, Wéi Tíngtíng 韦婷婷, founder of the center, said that WeChat posts about the crowdfunding were censored multiple times even though she tried to evade censorship by avoiding sensitive words and toning down the message.
Nonetheless, GSEC managed to conduct the survey with a collective donation of 35,000 yuan ($5,085) and released a report in April that showed 75 percent of those surveyed — current and former female college students in China — are victims of sexual harassment. Prior to this survey, the center also published a report that shed light on prevalent sexism in the Chinese media industry, where more than 80 percent of female journalists said they were at one point subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.
In the closing announcement, there was no word on what caused the shutdown. In the comment section of the post, the center wrote to an upset follower, “I am sad too. But winter has arrived. There is still a long way ahead of us. Hope we will see each other again.”