Alibaba Scandal Sparks Widespread Public Debate
18 Aug, 2021  |  Source:China Daily  |  Hits:3247

A poster in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, states: "No to sexual harassment". ZHAO BIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Angry netizens

The woman's story and two similar recent cases-involving celebrities and a well-known company-have led to heated and wider public debate about protection against sexual harassment.

Kris Wu, one of the country's leading pop stars, has been arrested on suspicion of rape. Judicial authorities in Beijing said on Monday that they had approved the arrest of a suspect surnamed Wu on a previous suspicion of rape after reviewing the case in accordance with the law.

Media reports confirmed the suspect is the 30-year-old Chinese-Canadian singer and actor Wu, who was detained by police for an alleged crime on July 31.

Wu was accused by an 18-year-old student of pressuring her and other women into having sex with him.

Days after the Alibaba scandal, a female employee at Guizhou Guotai Liquor Group in Guizhou province reported sexual abuse by her male colleagues after drinking.

These reports triggered a storm on social media platforms and a public backlash against sexual harassment and sexual assault. Related topics remained on Sina Weibo's trending chats-a ranking list of the most-discussed issues, with millions of netizens taking part in the debate.

Many netizens voiced strong support for victims brave enough to tell of their experiences.

Sina Weibo user "a big apple "commented: "They are heroes. What they did not only contributed to forming public opinion to fight sexual harassment and assault, but also encouraged others who may have experienced such incidents to speak out."

Although women have gained much greater independence in recent decades in China, publicizing experiences of sexual harassment or discrimination also leaves them at risk from internet trolls.

Sun Xuemei, who launched the Girls Protection Fund, an NGO against child sexual abuse, said, "These victims are really brave, as they must contend with employers who face fewer legal risks by ignoring complaints of sexual wrongdoing than they do for firing the accused.

"The absence of comprehensive sex education in China has resulted in cognitive bias toward sexual harassment and assault. Far from being afraid of talking about sex in public, some people have even blamed the victims, questioning why they became targets."

Sun said alcohol is usually an excuse for such male offenders. "People will not adopt a tough attitude toward these offenders if the offenders were drunk. Some people may even excuse an offender by saying, 'He didn't mean to do this, the alcohol is to blame'."

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