Authorities in China’s Sichuan province want to increase the number of female law enforcement officers, but with a catch: they must be young and pretty. Authorities in the city of Chengdu said they created the women-only team to “present the soft side” of China’s urban law enforcement officers, known as chengguan, whose alleged abuses of power and excessive force have earned them a bad reputation.
The Xindu district government’s advertisement states that candidates must be female, 18 to 23, over five foot two, attractive, and with a good temperament. Their contracts will end when they turn 26, a clause a human resources director of the law enforcement bureau says is for the women’s own sake: “When they get older, they will get married and have children so it will not be convenient for them to do such work.” He insists the women aren’t “flower vases” (idiom for women who are decorative but of little use), but widespread backlash at previous looks-based policies suggests many in China won’t tolerate discrimination. In 2004, the Hunan provincial government scrapped a policy that required female civil servants to have “symmetrical breasts” after wide ridicule.