[ 2007-01-23 13:15 ]
A Chinese movie on
lesbians,directed by Liyu
Between 2 pm and 4 pm every Saturday, the volunteer is busy at her
office desk in Xinjiang Road in Shanghai. She has to attend to all the calls
from women from across the country, and advise them how to solve their personal
and inter-personal problems.
She is one of two volunteers on the shift manning a hotline that was opened
on October 25 last year, and has to answer five to six calls in two hours. But
her job is different from others because all the callers are lesbians.
And she too, like her colleagues, is one of them. The only difference is that
the volunteers have undergone thorough psychological, medical and legal
"We have a dozen volunteers and are recruiting more," officer-in-charge Shen
Yimu said yesterday. Shen is from Hong Kong's Chi Heng Foundation, a
non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to improving the lives of
homosexuals and AIDS orphans. The
NGO was started by To Chung in 1998 to provide education and care to children
whose parents had died of AIDS.
The callers on the hotline can be teenagers to women in their forties. They
seek counsel for their relationships, gynecological
diseases and legal matters, Shen said.
But most of the callers are desperate middle-aged women married and even with
biological children being
blackmailed for disclosing their
"Lesbians are a very weak group. They are almost neglected by society," Shen
While male homosexuals are more daring, and demand their rights, lesbians
tend to keep everything under wraps.
Shen said the greatest pressure on lesbians comes from the family. To many,
homosexuals are a social malaise, and lesbians are nothing but a family
When a lesbian college student told her father about herself, he broke down
and had to be admitted to hospital to be treated for shock and depression. He
recovered only when his daughter swore to lead a "normal" social life.
Zhang Beichuan of the Qingdao University, said that while gays have attracted
much attention and get more understanding and help, lesbians are lonely and
So far no official organization has come forward to help this group, not even
the Women's Federation, Zhang said. They can only try to solve their problems by
discussing them at group gatherings, nightclubs and online chatting.
A hotline can do little to change such a situation. "It's more like a garbage
can in which lesbians can throw their pains," Shen said. "But it also offers an
outlet where they can vent their feelings."