Court Upholds Postal Worker Gender Discrimination Case Complaint

November 11, 2015北京市
By SavannahEditor: Jane Willborn
Court Upholds Postal Worker Gender Discrimination Case Complaint
Ma Hu wearing a shirt that says "Give women equality back!" [Xinhua]

Ma Hu, a resilient young Chinese woman who recently filed a complaint at Shunyi's People's Court in Beijing was ecstatic to receive a decision on November 2 regarding her case. She had taken the State-owned Beijing Postal Express Logistics Company to court in protest of their rejection of her application based on her gender.

In the ruling, the court determined that the company's rejection constituted discrimination and ordered compensation for psychological pain and trauma totaling 2,000 yuan (U.S. $310). The result tallies with a ruling at last year's first ever employment discrimination case in China on gender discrimination grounds. However, it is the first such incidence of someone winning compensation over discrimination for a state-owned company's position.

The Verdict Is In

The court argued that she was denied based on protections for women in labor industries, but Ma Hu's attorney rebutted that this was a misinterpretation of such statutes. In the decision, the court agreed that express workers do not fall under the category of labor positions unsuitable for women in government employment.

Ma Hu expressed delight, saying "At the beginning I never imagined I would win this lawsuit, because Beijing Post is a government position. To be honest, I thought I wasn't powerful enough. But following the reports at the hearing, and the opposition's inability to get their feet on solid ground as they described these obviously discriminatory attacks, this result is very reasonable."

Moving Forward

"In my heart of hearts, I'm still not completely satisfied. First, the public apology I wanted most was not supported by the court. Also, the fees for legal processes have not been provided, and compensation is the same as in the first sexual discrimination case. I think the cost to break laws is just too low," maintained Ma.

After discussion with her lawyer, Ma decided to go through judicial proceedings. At the same time, she planned on submitting a recommendation for a relaxation on the scope of limitations for women's employment and requested a government information disclosure to advance the work in limiting women's discrimination and attain equal rights in the workforce.

In Her Own Words

A youth who always admired the strength and endurance of a particular animal known for its staunch spirit, Ma actually started to go by a new name several years ago, putting together the two Chinese characters which make up the word "mule".

In an article called "You Tell Me Not To Be Such a Mule," Ma Hu writes her own personal reflection:

I was born in a village, so I had more of a "high quality" childhood than a lot of city kids.

Picking up duck eggs by the river, collecting mushrooms by the mountain, stuffing my pockets with fruit picked from the mountain, playing hide and go seek in cornfields, and staring up at the sky from behind paddies of harvest rice… I would go with the boys to catch crickets and frogs, dive into the river naked, and play with toy guns or yoyos. I never lost to the boys.

My sister was two years older than me. She liked to play with dolls, in a play house, or pretend she was a doctor and give me shots. She would take a big spring onion and hold it up like an umbrella, pretending she was the famous gentlewoman Xia Yuhe, thinking she was all that. She never went up to the mountains or played in the dirt, and she wouldn't even let me pick cucumbers. I feel like her childhood was far inferior to mine.

When we were 5 or 6, my family left the village, so I would always look forward to winter vacation or labor day when we could return. I felt I could be free there! Even if my parents didn't like taking me to the fields to work with them, saying I would get in the way, I always loved to tag along. I didn't think I was any different from the boys, and in the end I also learned how to detassel corn and harvest rice fields; plus, I did it faster than all the boys.

My father was the oldest of his siblings, so he has the most education and even went to college, which is very rare in our village…. I know that because my sister and I are girls my mother has had to struggle a lot in unfair ways. I also know, that because of our gender my father cannot hold his head high in the village. This type of circumstance is only too common in our village, but my sisters and I were lucky because since our parents did not have a son, we both got to receive an education. ….

When I took the college entrance exams I had enough connections to get into a better university, but I thought that wasn't very fair to others in my position so I didn't pay attention to their plans. I got into the college that I had earned and studied what I was interested in….

Today I think the biggest headache for parents isn't that their children might create some sort of trouble, but just that they can't control them. A girl being able to make decisions for herself is a beautiful and admirable thing, regardless of whether the choices she makes are good or bad. My sister knows what she wants, and I know what I don't want.

But every choice or decision that you makes come with a price…. If my sister wants to have snacks, she acts a little coquettish around my dad and she gets some money. If I want to have extra snacks, I run errands for my sister, and I will get hers. I enjoy digging around in the dirt, even if it's just for a cucumber. My sister hates it, but she still likes eating cucumbers, so if she wants some she is in charge of washing it. We divide labor so everyone can do what they're good at and what they like. Don't make me make act coquettish, and don't make my sister dig up cucumbers.

…When I wanted a job, people weren't comparing which girl was stronger, but rather which applicant was male. I was really naïve. I'm sorry: please don't say that this discrimination is to "protect" me; I have always been able to protect myself up until now.

You don't need to think it's strange that I want to be in the express post, or doubt that I really want this position. I'm the type of feminist who always climbed in through windows instead of using doors when I was a kid. But don't worry, it was all ground-level.

(Source: Women's Voice/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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