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China dismisses high-profile #MeToo case as women continue to suffer assault

Sexual assault, domestic abuse, murder cases regularly make news in China

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Zhou Xiaoxuan weeps as she speaks to her supporters upon arrival at a courthouse in Beijing, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

Zhou Xiaoxuan weeps as she speaks to her supporters upon arrival at a courthouse in Beijing, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Beijing Haidian Court dismissed a sexual harassment case against China Central Television (CCTV) host Zhu Jun (朱軍) on Tuesday (Sept. 14) due to “lack of evidence” provided by the accuser, a former intern named Zhou Xiaoxuan.

In 2018, Zhou Xiaoxuan, who is better known by her online alias Xianzi (弦子) and whose Chinese name is only publicized in pinyin, accused CCTV host Zhu Jun of molesting her during her internship in 2014. Both parties sued each other following Xianzi’s accusation.

The accusation exploded across the internet in China, and it soon garnered its place as a prominent Chinese #MeToo movement milestone despite official censorship.

According to the New York Times, Zhou told reporters and supporters that the judges “had rejected her lawyer’s efforts to introduce what she said was supporting evidence,” including video footage from the day of the assault and her parents’ statements with the police after the incident.

She said she was not asked if she will appeal, but she intends to, the New York Times reported.

Many users on Weibo (China’s Twitter equivalent) saw Zhou’s defeat as proof of her accusations being false and lamented the “unfortunate” ruin of Zhu Jun’s career. They used the term “femifist” (女拳) to describe the women’s rights movements that challenged social and political authorities and celebrated the “serving of justice.”

China dismisses high-profile #MeToo case as women continue to suffer assault
A Weibo user says Zhu Jun is such a nice host that it is impossible for him to misbehave and tells "certain women" to wake up from their daydreams. (Weibo screenshot)

Sexual assault against women is a major social issue in China, yet relevant reports and discussions are severely censored. Reports of sexual assault on girls and women, as well as of domestic abuse or even murder cases, circulate on Weibo regularly but tend to disappear quickly.

As of Wednesday (Sept. 15), three separate incidents of attacks on women reached the top 50 trending topics on Weibo. In one story, a man in Heibei Province reportedly killed his child by throwing him or her out of a 29th-floor window and also stabbed his wife, who is still being treated.

China dismisses high-profile #MeToo case as women continue to suffer assault
Two trending topics on Weibo related to domestic abuse against women. (Weibo screenshot)

Another recent event that caused controversy occurred on Aug. 30, when videos of Xi’an subway security guards dragging a woman out of a train and ripping her clothes and underwear surfaced on Weibo, triggering public outrage. She allegedly got into a fight with a passenger for talking too loudly on the phone.

Chinese netizens were shocked and appalled by the brutal and humiliating treatment she received, and they were angered by attempts to tone down the severity of the event.

An explanation provided by the operator of the Xi’an subway was that a female passenger had been berating passengers around her and engaging in physical conflict, thus disrupting order on the subway. She was “taken away from the carriage” after failed attempts at convincing her to stop, and the police got involved when she “reacted violently,” according to the operator.

China dismisses high-profile #MeToo case as women continue to suffer assault
A Xi'an subway security guard forcibly drags a woman off the train. (Bilibili screenshot)

In later Weibo posts following up on the event, which have since been deleted, it was said that the woman lost her job after the incident and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In August, a female Alibaba employee surnamed Zhou (周) accused a manager and a client of sexually assaulting her in a lengthy essay posted on Alibaba’s intranet, saying that she did so after the company failed to properly address the matter. The accusation caused widespread controversy online and generated criticism about both the business and drinking cultures in China, which leave female workers vulnerable.

However, prosecutors later dropped the case, and the accused manager surnamed Wang (王) walked free. A Weibo user claiming to be his wife now alleges Zhou had repeatedly tried to seduce the client and that she fabricated all the facts to make false accusations.

There have also been multiple reports of sexual assault within the entertainment industry, most notably allegations made against Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian singer who was arrested on Aug. 16. He was accused of sexually assaulting underage girls and grooming young fans to become his lovers.


Updated : 2021-09-21 11:26 GMT+08:00