Male Chinese officials sleep with Uighur hosts
Chinese Communist Party officials monitor the behaviour of Uighur families through home visits in Xinjiang - where more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are held in a network of of prison camps that authorities downplay as "vocational education centres".
But now it has been alleged that the men sleep in the same beds as the women in whose houses they stay.
The home visits by Han Chinese men to Uighur homes is part of a "Pair Up and Become Family" program launched by the Chinese government in 2017, aimed at "promoting ethnic unity".
An anonymous Communist Party official in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar described the programme in more detail to RFA.
According to the official, the men stay at the Uighur households for up to six days every two months.
The Chinese officials are called "relatives" even though there is no blood relation. They eat and work with the family, the official said, as well as discuss Communist Party ideology.
"They help [the families] with their ideology, bringing new ideas," he told RFA. "They talk to them about life, during which time they develop feelings for one another."
He said that "normally one or two people sleep in one bed, and if the weather is cold, three people sleep together," adding that "it is now considered normal for females to sleep on the same platform with their paired male 'relatives'".
A local official in Yengisar County, where Kashgar is, confirmed the sleeping arrangement to RFA but insisted that the male officials always keep a distance of three feet from their female hosts at night.
The officials claim that male officials never try to take advantage of the Uighur women.
When asked whether any of the Uighur hosts had voiced objections to the arrangement, especially in cases where the adult male relatives in the family are detained and not at home, the Kashgar official said "they are very keen, and offer them whatever they have".
"We also try to help them to make proper [sleeping] arrangements," he said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has slammed the "home stay" programme as an example of "deeply invasive forced assimilation practices", saying "there is no evidence to suggest that families can refuse such visits".
The Uighur community in northwestern China has faced an intense crackdown in recent years, with more than a million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities held in internment camps in Xinjiang province.
China initially denied the existence of these camps, but now claims that its detention centres are not concentration camps but "re-education camps" where "students" are trained to successfully reintegrate into Chinese society.
It claims the camps are a necessary measure to counter Islamic extremism.
Human rights groups say that Uighurs and other Muslim minorities endure political indoctrination at these camps.
Earlier this year, detained Uighur women in China's western province Xinjiang said they were released by proving their "adaptability to Chinese society" by drinking alcohol and eating pork.
International recognition of the incarceration and human rights abuses has been sparse, especially from the governments of Muslim majority nations.
Agencies contributed to this report.