BEIJING, April 8 (UPI) -- Five feminists in China, who protested gender inequality have been accused of provoking social instability by Chinese authorities, and are currently in custody.
Of the five, at least two were in poor health, reported The New York Times.
Wu Rongrong, 30, an AIDS activist, was said to be sick after being deprived of her hepatitis medication. A second activist, Wang Man, 33, was said to have suffered a minor heart attack as she sat in jail.
The activists, five in total, had been successful in bringing attention to the plight of Chinese women in an increasingly unequal China.
The arrests, which took place in March, drew a response from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Twitter Monday.
"The detention of women's activists in #China must end," she tweeted.
"This is inexcusable."
The message drew the irritation of the Chinese government, according to CNN.
Prior to their arrest, the activists protested inadequate women's restroom facilities by storming men's toilets, and marching through Beijing wearing white wedding gowns splashed with red paint to protest domestic violence.
Wei Tingting, one of the five, said she remembers as a child watching men beat their wives in public.
"People thought that women deserved beating," said Wei.
The arrests of the five peaceful protesters who are tackling social but not necessarily political issues are indicative of China's unease with skillful social organizers, rights advocates told The New York Times.
China's concern over social instability appears to have overruled the group's more significant achievements, which includes a bill on domestic violence under legislative consideration in China.
"Many people find it mind-boggling that the government of the second-largest economy and the world's largest standing army is afraid of a group of women trying to draw attention to sexual harassment," said Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch.
"The combination of power and paranoia on display is very telling."