#MeToo Weather Cases Censorship, Deletion & Victim Denigration

On Monday, several activists wore t-shirts emblazoned with the issue “Where is Peng Shuai?” to a match at Wimbledon to publicize the Chinese tennis star. Peng has been absent from international media following her enforced disappearance, forced respawnsand forced retirement following a sexual assault allegation against former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli that she posted last November. Ping won a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2013, but the discussion of injustice against him was not welcome at the tournament this week. As Emine Sinmaz of The Guardian reported, the activists were confronted by Wimbledon security guards who warned them not to approach anyone at the venue:

Will Hoyles, 39, one of the campaigners, said: “We came to try to raise awareness a bit but Wimbledon managed to make it worse by harassing us…

“They were asking loads of questions about what we were going to do, why we were here, you know, what we had already done, etc. And we told them that we had just walked around and talked to a few- some people and that’s when they seemed to get quite suspicious.

He said staff told them they “shouldn’t approach anyone to talk to them”. “They have said repeatedly that the club does not like to be political,” he added. [Source]

Despite the quotepolitical neutralityto justify waning show of support for Peng Shuai, Wimbledon chose to ban 16 athletes from Russia and Belarus in April, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarusian support for the invasion. A similar controversy arose in January, when the Australian Open expelled activists attempt to raise public awareness of The disappearance of Peng Shuai, but that organization later reversed its decision under widespread public pressure. The Women’s Tennis Association, one of the few major tennis organizations to follow up on her rhetoric of support for Peng, said canceled all its events in China due to his continued absence from public life.

Outside of court, other #MeToo cases are making slow progress in China’s court system. On June 22, a Chinese court sentenced Zhang Guo, a man accused of sexually assaulting a former Alibaba employee, to 18 months in prison. The former employee, surnamed Zhou, alleged that Zhang and her former manager, surnamed Wang, forced her to drink too much alcohol while having dinner with a client last August and later raped her in the night. After Zhou revealed his story on an internal company message board, Alibaba fired Wang, but then turned around and laid off ten other employees for “leaking” Zhou’s accusation to the public. Zhou finally lost his own job as well. This week, following Zhang’s sentencing, Zhou called out inconsistencies in the police statement on the case. Huizhong Wu of The Associated Press reported Zhou’s online post criticizing Wang’s lenient judicial treatment:

Zhou criticized the official police account for turning his manager from “someone who objectively has criminal intent, a rapist with real criminal intent, into a good boss who takes care of his drunken subordinate.”

” And me ? …I became a slut who falsely blames the male boss she was dating,” she continued.

[…] She wrote that her former manager stole her ID so the hotel would make her a room key, asking staff to register her as a travel companion. She also said police concluded she could not speak clearly when reception called to seek her consent to give her a key.

“He willfully canceled his taxi on the app, took my stolen ID, went back to the hotel and added himself to my room, sexually raped me,” she told the AP, developing its message. “All of these things show that not only did he intentionally attempt to rape, but also that he committed a criminal act.”

A police statement last August said Wang had the key made with Zhou’s consent and had his ID card, without saying how he got it. [Source]

Two days after Zhang was sentenced to prison, a four-hour public hearing for a sexual assault case involving the head of another powerful Chinese tech company took place in the United States The victim, Liu Jingyao, has accused Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, of raping her after having dinner and drinks in 2018. At the time, Liu Jingyao was an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota. The hearing revolved around a request add punitive damages against Liu Qiangdong and JD.comand the formal jury trial is scheduled to begin on September 26 or October 3. In a recent preview of the case posted by a women’s rights-friendly WeChat account, friends and supporters of Jingyao who attended her hearing shared more details about the lawsuit, and criticized the double standard applied to male and female behavior in sexual assault cases:

In the court of public opinion, victims are subject to intense scrutiny and distrust. Why not ask Liu Qiangdong, or whoever organized the event, why would a dozen middle-aged men invite a young woman in her twenties to a drunken party? Why did Liu Qiangdong bring Jingyao to his villa in the first place? Liu Qiangdong is a married man, so why wasn’t he more circumspect about his words and behavior? People instinctively find excuses to justify the behavior of rich and powerful men. But as a woman, unless you think like a perfectly rational automaton, people will tend to exaggerate the “irrational” aspects of your behavior. [Chinese]

This week, a similar public slander was leveled against Yu Xiuhua, a woman born with cerebral palsy who became famous for her poems about love, sexuality, disability and female identity. In a Weibo post (deleted two hours after it was posted on Wednesday), she accused her ex-husband Yang Zhuce of domestic violence, alleging he physically assaulted her on several occasions during their two-month marriage, after she asked him if he was having an affair with another woman. While some of Yu’s fans were sympathetic or outraged on her behalf, other netizens criticized her for being an attention seeker, alleged that she “brought him in,” or made her the target. online bullying and death threats. The author of a WeChat post archived by CDT detailed how women who experience sexual violence often face harsher public scrutiny and criticism than their male abusers:

It has become common practice online. When a woman is a victim of domestic violence, the first question people ask is, “What did she do? [to provoke it]?”

In the absence of other evidence, the spirit conjures up various vilifying possibilities:

“Did the man discover that their child was not his?

“Has she been mean to her in-laws?”

“Was she too mean?

This is especially true in the case of Yu Xiuhua, a headstrong and high-profile woman with many enemies. Some will easily understand why a man can beat her: they will say that she expected it, that she did this humiliation to herself, that she knew the risks and that she put herself in it with her eyes wide open.

“You are old, disabled and ugly – why do you think such a young man could actually love you?”

The heartless domestic abuser has so far avoided the storm, while Yu Xiuhua, the battered one, finds herself in the eye of the storm, the object of public censure. [Chinese]

Translation by Cindy Carter.

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