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Tan Weiwei: Exposing China’s Corrupt Domestic Violence Crisis in One Courageous Anthem

Domestic violence cases have risen rapidly over the past year due to prolonged lockdowns making leaving the house for other than a necessity an act of crime. In actuality, a crime was already taking place in multiple accommodations across the world, behind doors that lingered in aggression and vulnerability. Taking a stand and raising a renewed awareness of the matter, Chinese pop singer, Tan Weiwei (aka Sitar Tan) released a track focused on the female victims of domestic violence. 

The song titled, “Xiao Juan” (pseudonym Chinese authorities give to “females of violent crimes”) has been viewed incredibly more than 1 million times since it released back in December. The song is based on the domestic violence cases in China, where news of such incidents are disposed of before they can make headlines. The song, however, has resonated with women all across the globe and has attracted media attention to the desperate message the artist is trying to address. Tan does not hold back as she sings “How will you remember me? As a nymph, as your booty call or as enslaved by prostituting myself?”, words which would have been condemned as an insult to voice out loud in China, a country which only 6 years ago passed a law criminalising domestic violence. 

Tan questions the abuser directly from their perspective, as women in China and many other countries have had their cases scrutinised for countless years by close minded spectators and corrupt authoritarians, blaming the woman for being the cause of the violence and assault; received on terms they dressed too provocatively or had not respected their partner “as they should have” or met their “needs sufficiently”. The song draws attention to past “forgotten” cases in China where women were horrifically murdered by their partners or ex-lovers, a handful of cases from the estimated 900 + that were killed before 2016 when the law was passed. 

Elsie Chan, a writer for the New York Times, stated that many families in China are brought up on the belief that “the disgrace of a family should never be shared outside”. A stubborn mentality that has been solidified in society causing many musicians and other people in China that have a status to be muted on such social issues. The stigma even extends to a crackdown on feminism and those who believe women should have an equal stance in society as men. The backward beliefs have made those who wish to speak out, such as Tam, a target but it’s a risk some are willing to make to change the current outlook on China’s future. 

Tam has received an outpouring of love and support since the release of her song and has sparked much needed discussion around the world. Her fearless act has made it difficult to avoid hearing about the domestic cases that have been filed as just “another woman who made her partner’s life difficult” and instead has the difficult details placed in front of the country that was supposed to prevent any of it from happening in the first place. As feminists we aim to have a world where we can all be equal and live without fear, a world that Tam has shown the dreariest reality to that is in need of fixing if we can all unite, educate ourselves on such matters and speak up on the truth, however dark it may be. 

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