Humagu Abubu, 19, who was going to marry a man she had never met by family arrangement, now works at a clothing factory after she graduated from a center in Kashgar. /CGTN Photo
As women are the biggest victims of extremist ideology, educational and vocational training centers in northwest China are helping them fight back and gain a new lease on life.
Guzailinuer Aishan has become a cosmetics expert at a vocational training center in Hotan. When asked what she's most proud of, the future make-up artist thought for a moment and said, “Eyebrows, eyes, and my skin.”
Before she came to the center, Aishan had never put on any make-up. Under the influence of extremism, she was forced to wear conservative clothes to cover her body. Aishan said that, if she didn't, people around her would point fingers.
“Why can't I just be a real woman? Why must I wear a big black robe? As a female, I have the right to look pretty and choose what to wear,” said the trainee.
Angry about people being judgmental and intimidating her, Aishan decided to help more women like her take action against such stereotypes with her weapons of choice: Rouge and lipsticks.
“I helped my peers look pretty, helped them to be fashionistas,” she said proudly, “My classmates come to me at their wedding day, so do my teachers and other staff of the center.”
Aishan said she would like to open a beauty salon to teach more people beauty tips. There are many like her, forbidden to work by extremist doctrines. Now with the skills and knowledge they have learned at the centers, female trainees now have the bread and butter to prove that women can be just as self-reliant as men.
"I learned legal knowledge and Chinese here. I will find a stable job and have a family after graduation. It's better for my children this way,” said a female trainee who learned shoemaking techniques at the center.
Humagu Abudu graduated from a similar center in Kashgar. She is now working at a local clothing factory. Before this, the 19 year-old was going to marry a man she had never met. Abudu was told that a woman must obey her husband and her parents, but realizing her to-be husband was an extremist, the girl drew the line.
“Our children would have been infected with extremist ideology. How can children grow up normally if their parents are extremists?”
Fortunately, the young woman turned to help in time. She said life is much better after coming to study at the center.
“If I hadn't come here, I would have become my fiance's breeding tool, with no freedom or hope, not to mention missing out on a modern society like this,” said Abudu.
Providing shelter and professional skills training, the centers help steer female victims in a new direction. Earning confidence and respect through education and jobs, trainees will live free of chauvinism and extremism.