Uighur Women Detained In China’s Internment Camps Share Harrowing Allegations Of Rape And Torture

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 03 Feb 2021 15:31

Warning: Distressing Content

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Uighur women have shared horrific allegations of systematic rape and torture from their time in China’s internment camps. 


Officially known by the Chinese government as ‘re-education’ camps, they were created for Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group originating from the general region of Central and East Asia.

The re-education system is described as ‘washing brains, cleansing hearts, strengthening righteousness and eliminating evil’.

However, several Uighur women have now come forward with accounts of harrowing experiences while detained at the camps, including systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture.


According to human rights groups, Uighurs have had their religious and other freedoms taken away from them, which led to ‘an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even forced sterilisation’, BBC News reports.

Documents leaked to The New York Times indicate that Chinese President Xi Jinping directed officials to have ‘absolutely no mercy’ on Uighurs in the wake of a terror attack by Uighur separatists in 2014.

One woman, Tursunay Ziawudun, spent nine months at one of the camps in the Xinjiang region, and recalled her experiences, telling BBC News, ‘Perhaps this is the most unforgettable scar on me forever. I don’t even want these words to spill from my mouth.’

Ziawudun claimed some women were raped every night by one or more Chinese men. She says she was gang-raped and tortured on three occasions.


She added that women were forbidden from talking about what had happened to them, and that they could only lie down quietly. She added, ‘It is designed to destroy everyone’s spirit.’

Upon her release from the camp in December 2018, Ziawudun fled Xinjiang and is currently residing in the US.

While her account cannot be fully verified, BBC News obtained Ziawudun’s travel documents and immigration records, which corroborate the timeline of her story.


Gulzira Auelkhan, who spent 18 months at one of the camps, recalled her time there, explaining:

My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move. Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter – some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door, and when the man left the room I took the woman for a shower.

Auelkhan added that it was also her job to clean the room afterwards and that men would ‘would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates’.


Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on China’s policies in Xinjiang, described the testimonies as ‘some of the most horrendous evidence I have seen since the atrocity began’.

He continued, ‘This confirms the very worst of what we have heard before. It provides authoritative and detailed evidence of sexual abuse and torture at a level clearly greater than what we had assumed.’

You can read BBC News’ full report here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, China, News, Uighurs, World News


BBC News
  1. BBC News

    'Their goal is to destroy everyone': Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape