30,000 Hongkongers rally against police sexual violence

Participants flash purple light to protest against sexual violence by Hong Kong police

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#ProtestToo rally against police's sexual violence on Aug. 28

#ProtestToo rally against police's sexual violence on Aug. 28 (By Associated Press)

Chinese characters read "accusing police's sexual violence" and "Hong Kong police, perverted and low-classed"

Chinese characters read "accusing police's sexual violence" and "Hong Kong police, perverted and low-classed"

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A crowd of 30,000 Hongkongers lit the Chater Garden purple with their mobile phones on Wednesday evening (Aug. 28) to protest against the sexual violence perpetrated by Hong Kong police during their crackdown on the ongoing anti-extradition protests, the Stand News reports.

Participants wrote #ProtestToo, a reference to both the protests and the #MeToo movement, on their arms with lipstick and covered their mobile phones’ flashlights with transparent purple paper. Waves of purple light soon spilled into surrounding areas, as the park was not big enough to contain the larger-than-expected turnout.

Linda Wong (王秀容), the executive director of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (ACSVAW), said that Hong Kong police officers have been filmed or accused of sexually assaulting both female and male protesters over the past three months, not only to humiliate them but also silence to them. Wong emphasized that the protesters will not, however, be silenced and that Hongkongers will continue to demand that acts of sexual violence committed by police be punished by law.

One victim, whose skirt and underwear were torn off during her arrest at Tin Shui Wai on August 5, said on stage that she is not ashamed of the incident because she had not done anything wrongful. She also said that she will not be afraid and stop protesting because that would further encourage police to use such methods to crack down on the protests.

Another female victim, whose bra was exposed by the police on June 12, said that a male officer had even attempted to stop her from pulling her shirt back over it, adding that the episode was so traumatic that she still needs to see a psychologist regularly. “We all hope this kind of thing will not happen again, but more importantly, we should not be used to the police using sexual violence as a tactic against us,” she said.

A female protester named Lui, who on August 23 accused two police officers of strip-searching her unnecessarily, also went on stage and urged more victims to speak up. The police have denied Lui’s accusation, saying it was a “lie” because there was “no written department record of the incident,” to which Lui replied, “The world will see who is telling the truth and who is lying.”

Participants in the rally chanted “Sisters, you have done nothing wrong,” “We are by your side,” and “Be strong” to support the victims who were brave enough to speak on stage. ACSVAW also accused law enforcement of having committed additional sexual assaults on behalf of victims who did yet not have the courage to come up on stage, including one who said that police had rubbed her clitoris with a hard object and refused her access to a toilet in order to watch her lose control of her bladder.

A protester named Chen brought with her an “excellent record” of sexual assaults by the police in the past few decades, including a police officer raping a 19-year-old woman after she had gone to the police station to report her missing purse in 2008. She said that sexual violence is not limited to female protesters, reminding the crowd of the two police officers who prodded an old male citizen’s groin with a baton in a hospital on June 26.

A participant named Ho said that it is shameful and unacceptable for the Hong Kong police, who proclaim themselves to be “the best in Asia,” to resort to such “low-class” methods. He added that rumors went as far as claiming the police are gang-raping arrested protesters in San Uk Ling Holding Centre, showing how far the police force's public image has fallen.