The prominent social worker and rights activist was expected to attend the World Aids Summit in Melbourne on Wednesday
Ye Haiyan, a prominent advocate for sex workers’ rights, says she has been barred from leaving China on Wednesday prior to her scheduled departure for Australia to attend a global Aids conference.
Ye, 39, has been raising awareness about the abuse of sex workers’ rights in China for almost a decade, defying harassment by local authorities and even house arrest.
“I’m very surprised and angry about these restrictions imposed by the government,” Ye said. “I only get to see my colleagues once every two years at these conferences.”
In China, prostitution and other forms of sex work are illegal, and people involved are often punished with extrajudicial detention in re-education camps.
Last year, Ye launched a social media campaign to push for the trial of a Hainan school principal accused of raping schoolchildren.
She and dozens of other activists and sympathisers shared photos of themselves holding banners that read, “Principals, if you want to get a room, get one with me and leave the kids alone.” It went viral and the principal was eventually sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for the rape of four girls aged 11 to 14.
However, Ye was detained, beaten by unidentified people and kicked out of her rented home following the campaign.