China: Sihai Long

I believe what I have done has changed the way many women and children look at themselves and the world… We can not only master our own fate, we can also change the environment in which we live…

— Sihai Long

Long Sihai works in the Bureau of Justice in Yunnan province. Her work on advocacy of legal rights led her to set up a support center for women and children of ethnic minorities – particularly those who are abducted or suffering from Aids in southwest China. Long Sihai also organizes touring programs aimed at working to prevent abduction. These involve not only the support center, but also the Bureau of Justice, education departments, the Office of Legal Advocacy, provincial television stations, and arts troupes of the Dai national minority.

Long Sihai has long been working for the advocacy of legal rights. During her extensive work experience and social participation, she noticed that women and children from ethnic minorities in remote areas were always disadvantaged in terms of resources. This is not only the case in traditional societies, but also in modern ones. After she graduated in 1983, Long Sihai was assigned to work in the Bureau of Justice. She chose to follow in her parents’ footsteps when she took up law as a profession. Her career direction, however, took a different turn because of the suicide of her younger sister, and there was a shift in emphasis towards public education to foster individual rights and protection. In 1998 there was a case of a girl from the minority Dai community being raped by her step-father over a five-year period. Neighbors and relatives of the victim, including her mother and grandparents, were aware of what was happening, but no one had filed a report. This was one of the reasons that led to Long to establish a support center to provide such substantial services as legal consultation, and professional assistance in areas of psychology, social service and health. Given the increasing numbers of cases of abduction of ethnic minority women and children, the center became very important and the programs it ran very popular. The center is currently working with the local Bulang community to set up a support unit. A review of collaborative efforts between various departments has also been undertaken.