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China Broadens Investigation Of Detained Feminist Activists To Protests Dating Back To 2012

The women have been held in custody since early March.

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Chinese police are investigating five feminists detained since early March over campaigns dating back to 2012, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Ng Han Guan / AP

One of the five detained activists, Wei Tingting, in Beijing on July 31, 2014.

The women were taken into custody in March and their supporters initially assumed that they were being held over a planned campaign against sexual harassment on public transport. However, their lawyers on Wednesday said police investigations had now widened out to include a 2012 campaign to get more public toilets for women and a 2013-14 campaign against domestic violence.

The women, aged between their mid-twenties and early thirties, stormed men's public restrooms for the 2012 toilets campaign. They marched in white wedding gowns splashed with red paint to raise awareness about domestic violence. Their detention has caused other young feminists in China to go into hiding, the New York Times has reported.

China's treatment of the women has sparked international criticism, with people around the world tweeting the hashtag #FreeTheFive.

#FreeTheFive Take Action now! Health fears for detained women activists in #China

Shyamantha Asokan is a foreign news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Shyamantha Asokan at

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