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China’s landmark #MeToo case returns to court after backlash

#Chinas #landmark #MeToo #case #returns #court #backlash

A landmark sexual harassment case in China was back in court on Wednesday after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement.

Zhou Xiaoxuan came forward in 2018 and accused state TV host Zhu Jun of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the station.

While the case of now 29-year-old Zhou inspired many others to publicly share their experiences of sexual assault and caused a storm on social media, a court ruled last year that there was insufficient evidence to back up her claim substantiate

Zhou appealed and returned to the court for another hearing in Beijing on Wednesday.

“I still feel a little scared and depressed,” she told AFP news agency before the hearing.

“The trial of the first trial was a deep secondary injury.”

Police cordoned off long stretches of sidewalk in front of Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court before their arrival, with officers taking identities of passers-by.

Zhou told AFP her legal team will focus on gaining access to more evidence, such as police transcripts of interviews with her parents after she reported the incident — which were not included in the earlier trial.

They are also demanding access to surveillance video.

Zhou said Zhu had been absent from previous trials and although he sued her for defamation, she was unaware of further developments in the case.

A small group of supporters came to wish Zhou happiness on Wednesday, holding up signs that read “#MeToo” and balloons that read “Happy Birthday” in Chinese.

“Four years have passed and the most important thing is that we raised this question: if a woman is subjected to sexual harassment in a closed space, is her pain worth paying attention to?” Zhou said to the followers.

“Maybe there is no answer today, but the most important thing is that we ask this question here.”

– ‘Too heavy’ –

Zhou, also known by the alias Xianzi, originally sued a public apology from Zhu and 50,000 yuan (US$7,400) in damages.

Her first hearing in December 2020 drew a large crowd and a significant police presence in Beijing.

Reporters from foreign media including AFP were dragged away by police while filming the scene.

“The process for my case was really too difficult,” Zhou told AFP.

“I worry that other victims are afraid to stand up for their rights after seeing what I went through.”

But she added that with her case, “maybe the next victim that comes to court can gain more confidence.”

Her lawsuit against Zhu was originally filed under the “Personal Rights” Act — which covers rights related to a person’s health and body.

However, her lawyers later demanded that this be considered under a new sexual harassment law passed in 2020.

Despite this law, many women in China are still reluctant to press charges of harassment, and it is rare for cases to go to trial in a legal system that places a heavy burden on plaintiffs.

The country’s #MeToo movement has stalled since 2018, when a wave of women published allegations of sexual harassment against university professors.

Threatened at the time by the prospect of uncontrolled mass movement, internet censorship quickly began blocking social media hashtags and keywords.

Social Tags:
#Chinas #landmark #MeToo #case #returns #court #backlash

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