More than 10 university students protested the inclusion of gynecological examinations in the screening process for female civil service candidates, on Monday morning in Wuhan, Hubei Province.
Standing in front of the provincial Human Resources and Social Security Department, the students held signs and wore paper underpants over their clothes with slogans like "No pelvic exams!" and "No questions on menstrual history!" written on them, the Legal Daily reported Tuesday.
"We believe that pelvic exams have little connection with the duties of civil servants, and they violate the privacy of citizens. Through this demonstration, we call on government departments to drop the examinations," said an organizer.
A female student majoring in clinical medicine, Xiaochun, said the manual on physical examinations for civil service recruits says that gynecological exams are meant to diagnose sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and malignant tumors. The manual also calls for information on menstrual history.
Xiaochun argued that STIs are not spread during daily work and most do not impair one's work abilities. "Even more serious STIs, like syphilis, can be detected through blood tests."
The use of pelvic exams in recruitment may constitute employment discrimination, said Han Guijun, an associate law professor at the Wuhan-based Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. Han noted that the practice is also against China's labor law and the employment promotion law on equal employment.
Han said private enterprises and institutions may be led to believe that the practice is standard, which will hurt female candidates.
Zhuang Han, an associate professor with Wuhan University's law school, said that the standards, stipulated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Health in 2005, are inappropriate and exceed reason.
"In Western countries, such as the US, physicals cannot be part of recruitment. The standards set for civil servant recruitment are too invasive for women," Zhuang said.
The Human Resources and Social Security Department of Hubei Province did not comment on the protests.
About 1.12 million candidates took the annual National Public Servant Exam on Sunday.