China shows laxity over MeToo; suppresses women’s voices
Chinese authorities and prominent male players are suppressing women on digital platforms who are protesting under the MeToo banner and drowning out these voices of sexual violence victims, media reports said.
China’s anti-harassment laws as they stand are also unable to handle the issues of sexual violence against women in the country. One of the textbook cases for this is Zhou Xiaoxuan’s appeal where she accused a prominent state television presenter of sexual harassment, reported The Singapore Post.
On August 10, a Beijing court dismissed Xiaoxuan’s appeal. The case inspired additional women to come forward and publicly disclose their own experiences with sexual harassment. The episode spreaded beyond the internet and sparked group actions offline as well.
To mark their protest, numerous women gathered outside the courthouse to support Zhou at her first trial in 2021, but the police remained a mute spectator. The debate of the case was controlled on social media, and only a few media outlets were permitted to present a short story in keeping with the official line about the case, reported The Singapore Post.
One of MeToo’s long-lasting repercussions in China has been the ongoing social debate over what constitutes sexual harassment. The laws in China for the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests (hereafter the Women’s Protection Law), which went into effect in 2005, mentions “sexual harassment.”
However, the phrase is not specifically defined in the law. Only 34 of the more than 50 million court decisions made between 2010 and 2017 that are publicly available focused on sexual harassment, and only two of those cases were brought by victims suing their alleged harassers. Both cases were dismissed for lack of evidence, reported The Singapore Post.
Local anti-harassment laws have also been passed, although they have not always been followed and put into action.
Some of the MeToo allegations have been making their way through the legal system since 2018, but none of them have produced any significant outcomes.
The situation also remains grim in the higher education system as well. Even as MeToo allegations featured many students accusing their professors of sexual harassment, no university has designed or implemented any mechanism for addressing harassment.
Victim-shaming, witch-hunting, trolling, and doxing of victims and activists are common, even when or especially when opposition to sexual harassment becomes a dominant discourse
- report in Beijing News Net
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