After #MeToo, Chinese Women Fight Censorship To Bring Change

MeToo Turns Five

Chinese women are now organising the online space to encourage the country’s #MeToo movement bringing the reality to surface. They are also pushing for authorities and businesses to end sexual misconduct.

Last month, Lei Chuang, founder of Yi You (a charity that fights discrimination against people with Hepatitis B) confessed to an incident of sexual misconduct and quit his position. What followed was the wave of numerous assault claims in China. Since then, 20 women, have come forward to share allegations against other prominent individuals, from the charity sector, media and academia.

Elaine Chen, a beauty brand manager was angered by the latest case, involving Yi You. She resorted to online chat groups to discuss such issues with other women and make decisions on the next move. “Our purpose is very simple – that every woman who comes forward and shares their story can find some sort of support,” Chen told Reuters.
Chen is part of a group on WeChat, China’s most popular messenger app. Many volunteers, in the last few weeks, have been taking up tasks such as recording new cases, offering legal advice and organising media campaigns. In fact, some cases were first discussed in the group before being reported in the media.

Rice Bunny Movement

One-third of Chinese college students said they have suffered sexual violence or sexual assault, the non-profit China Family Planning Association said in 2016. China’s #MeToo moment only came in December, last year, after a university professor was accused of sexual misconduct. However, it slipped out quickly. Chinese authorities have  been reportedly censoring some of the social media posts on Weibo, the country’s app equivalent of Twitter.

However, millions of social media users in the country have found ways to evade censorship. They have been using the phrase “rice bunny”, which is pronounced “mi tu” in Mandarin.

Women, now, are pushing for a code of conduct in the workplace. They are asking businesses and charities to set up hotlines or websites to allow survivors to report sexual harassment anonymously. The non-profit Inno Community Development Organisation is spearheading the initiative. About 400 individuals and charities have pledged to support it.

Lack of a specific anti-harassment law in China.

Lv Xiaoquan from the Beijing-based Qianqian law firm, which provides legal aid on women’s rights cases, mentioned that the main challenge is the lack of a specific anti-harassment law in China. Therefore, women need to use other legal provisions.

China is definitely headed in a new direction with the women now ready, more than ever, to speak up and fight for their rights.

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