The British newspaper Independent was criticized on social media for downplaying the sexual harassment of Uighur Muslim women in the Xinjiang region by Chinese government officials.
The report published by the Independent on Tuesday said that Uighur women, whose husbands are being kept in Chinese concentration camps, are being forced to share beds with male state officials for monitoring purposes.
Chinese government sources claim that officials are not sexually abusing the women but rather Muslim Uighur women and the Chinese men with whom they are forced to sleep in the same bed "develop feelings for one another."
The widely-shared Independent report quickly came under fire for downplaying the sexual harassment the Uighur women are subjected to and refraining from describing it as "rape."
Talking to Radio Free Asia, one Chinese Communist Party official said that Chinese government officials are staying at the homes of Uighur families for days under a doctrinal program named "Pair Up and Become Family."
Human Rights Watch previously described these visits as "deeply invasive forced assimilation practices" and said Uighur families have no option but to accept them or else they risk being branded as extremists.
China's Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang's population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
Up to 1 million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to U.S. officials and U.N. experts.
According to a 117-page report by Human Rights Watch, the Chinese government conducted "mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment" of Uighur Turks in the region.