High-profile rape accusations revive China’s #MeToo movement

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Update on allegations of sexual misconduct

The surge in public anger over two high-profile sexual assault cases in China has rejuvenated the country’s troubled #MeToo campaign to address widespread discrimination and harassment.

But women’s rights activists warned that the ruling Chinese Communist Party still exists Be wary of mass feminist radicalism, Continue to suffer from censorship and nationalist attacks.

Chinese Canadian pop singer Wu Yifan was formally arrested by Beijing police on suspicion of rape on Monday after a 19-year-old college student named Du Meizhu accused him of dating, rape and seducing underage girls.Wu is the most famous celebrity facing criminal charges since the global #MeToo movement Take root in China 2018. Wu denied the allegations.

This month, an Alibaba employee defendant After she was forced to drink alcohol at work, her boss and business customers sexually assaulted her in an account posted online.police In custody There were two people last weekend.

The police’s response to the two public allegations rekindled the hopes of China’s #MeToo movement, although activists hesitated whether to attribute the enforcement actions in these cases to the Communist Party’s greater tolerance of its cause.

“We all know China’s suppression of civic movements, so we don’t want this type of case to be an excuse for the government to strengthen power and punish certain companies or industries,” said Xiong Jing, based in China. Feminist activist. “This is my concern, but there is nothing we can do about it.”

This fear is especially evident in the entertainment and technology industries, both of which are under pressure to “correct” the party’s behavior. Considered harmful Realize the vision of a healthy and stable society.

Chinese-Canadian pop star Wu Yifan arrested on suspicion of rape © Marechal Aurore/ABACA

Chinese state media largely avoided women’s rights in their comments on Wu and Alibaba’s manager’s allegations, which Alibaba said has been fired.

The party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, regarded the Alibaba scandal as one of corporate governance, and wrote: “The key is, what kind of culture the company advocates and establishes?”.

In Wu’s case, the party newspaper aimed Fanatical fan culture And the misconduct of celebrities: “If you use fame to indulge your selfish desires, the end result will be self-destruction.”

Chinese feminists do not deny change Male-dominated workplace culture Celebrity narcissism in the entertainment industry is an important step in combating harassment and assault.

But they also hope that the government will recognize gender discrimination and sexual harassment more broadly, and provide stronger legal protection for women who dare to speak up.

Activists said that the actions taken by the police against Wu and the former Alibaba manager may be critical to raising awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault, because it shows that there is strong evidence to support these allegations.

“These are very special cases because many of the previous #MeToo cases [in China] Rely on the recollection of events that happened many years ago,” Xiong said.

In 2018, #MeToo quickly accused the United States of sexual harassment one after another University, Non-profit organizations and the media have attracted public attention.

But after facing extensive censorship, the movement has disappeared from the public’s prestige. Attacks on feminist activists And stagnated in high-profile cases.

The landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against Zhu Jun, one of China’s most famous national television hosts, Stagnant In December last year, he refused to face the plaintiff in court. Zhu denied the allegations.

In 2018, Zhou Xiaoxuan, nicknamed “Fairy”, accused Zhu of groping and trying to kiss her during an internship at a 21-year-old broadcast company. Zhu later sued Zhou for defamation.

Online defamation and censorship show no signs of stopping. This month, a Chinese women’s labor rights blog called Pepper Tribe on WeChat announced that it was shutting down. Supporters said the move reflected a decline in tolerance for activism.

In April, nationalist commentators launched attacks on some well-known Chinese feminists, accusing them of cooperating with “foreign powers.” In May, a group of students’ WeChat blogs who raised awareness about LGBT+ issues were also shut down.

“Celebrating this moment and predicting a bright future are completely different things,” wrote Lu Pin, the founder of Women’s Voice, a Chinese online publication based in New York, in a blog post about recent cases.

“Many victims still lack a voice, many [social media] Accounts continue to disappear, and feminism is still an’anti-dynamic force’,” she said. “Recently, I have asked myself countless times: How does our movement continue? … Wu Yifan’s fall from grace cannot provide an answer. “

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