Clockwise from top left: Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Zheng Churan, Wei Tingting, Wang Man. They have have been detained by Chinese authorities.
Chinese feminist activists could face 5 years in prison
02:53 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Five young women have been detained by China since early March

They campaigned against sexual harassment

Their detention has attracted international criticism

CNN  — 

The United States is urging China to release five young feminists who face years in prison over their campaign for gender equality.

Authorities detained the women in three cities – Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou – a few days ahead of events planned for International Women’s Day on March 8.

Wang Qiushi, the lawyer for Wei, said police recommended Monday that prosecutors press charges of “assembling a crowd to disturb public order.”

Prosecutors have seven days – until Monday – to decide whether to pursue the charges, according to the lawyer.

Clockwise from top left: Li Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Zheng Churan, Wei Tingting, Wang Man. They have have been detained by Chinese authorities.

“We can do nothing but wait,” Wang said.

“But nobody knows what to expect till Monday; we can do nothing but wait.”

New charges

The five were initially held on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Wang said he didn’t know why the charge against the women changed.

“Neither should constitute a crime,” he said.

Campaign group Amnesty International said the new charge was less serious but still carried a maximum prison term of f