The #MeToo Movement gains momentum in China as people discover their power on social media

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Photo: YouTube screengrab
 

China’s #MeToo Movement has caught momentum recently, with stories of sexual abuse and harassment emerging concerning powerful figures in the media and non-profit sectors.  More than 10 such men are looking at such charges, as women, and even other men, have been empowered by the stories of others, and have one by one come forward to tell of their own experience.

The latest man to be accused of improper sexual behavior is China Central Television (CCTV) host Zhu Jun, who in late July faced allegations of sexual harassment from a former intern. The intern took to Chinese social media site Weibo to recount how the host attempted to grope her in his dressing room before his show was taped one day.


According to the woman, Zhu Jun only stopped when musician Yan Weiwen, a guest on that day’s show, entered the room, and the intern took the opportunity to flee.

While the woman immediately reported the incident to the police, she was later discouraged from pursuing charges against Mr. Zhu first by her internship supervisor, and then by two middle aged policemen who told reminded her that Mr. Zhu, who hosts a TV program with the highest number of viewers all over the world, CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala, has had a big positive influence on many people. They also tried to get her parents, employees in local government, to persuade her to drop the charges against the well-known TV host.

The woman wrote on her Weibo post, “In the absence of adequate laws to protect victims of sexual harassment, I know that I lack the power to stop Zhu from appearing on Spring Festival Gala and disgusting my family. But I think it’s absolutely unjust for him to get away with what he did.”

However, within hours, the post was censored and removed from the site, and Zhu Jun removed the commenting feature from his posts. Quick netizens were able to call the host out on the sexual harassment, however, leaving comments telling him to take responsibility for his actions.

Another celebrity accused of sexual harassment is noted journalist Zhang Wen. In July, an article was published with the story of a women accusing Mr. Zhang of raping her on May 15, when he brought her to his tea house while she was intoxicated. The woman says she had begged him to stop, and afterwards, when she talked about the incident with friends in order to warn them about him, he threatened to take “all possible measures” against her.

Mr. Zhang publicly denied the rape allegations, and said that he was being framed. However, soon afterward, at least five other women came forward with similar stories that they had been sexual harassed by him, including some celebrities such as artist Wang Yanyun, journalist Yi Xiaohe and writer Jiang Fangzhou.

More surprisingly, allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged from the non-government, or charity, sector.

Philanthropist Lei Chuang has been accused of sexual assault by a female co-worker who claims he assaulted her three years ago. He admitted to the assault, but claimed that they were involved in a romantic relationship at the time, which the woman denies. Recently, another woman has come forward with a similar accusation.

Another philanthropist, Feng Yongfeng, is also facing serious allegations including rape, harassment, assault and even death threats from several women. Mr. Feng has blamed his behavior on alcohol, as did Mr. Zhang.

Zhang Jinxiong, who has a charitable organization for the LGBT community, has also been accused of sexual harassment by three men.

Experts believe that the recent #MeToo allegations in China are just the tip of the iceberg, with other accusations likely to come forth in the near future. With many women, and men, discovering that power lies in their hands due to social media, it is very possible that other people who have abused their power through sexually harassing others, will find themselves and their deeds exposed.