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China's #MeToo means more than courage

  (February 01, 2018)

BEIJING, Feb. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by on the elevation of Chinese women's status and changes in sexual attitudes:

Recently, the #MeToo campaign, a hash tag turned rallying cry against sexual harassment, has spread around the world.

The movement also resonated in China. Luo Qianqian, a Chinese scholar now living in the United States, publicly accused Chen Xiaowu, a professor of Beihang University, of sexually harassing her and several other female students in the past. Chen was fired by the university after the scandal.

After the New York Times broke the Harvey Weinstein story last year, American actress Alyssa Milano started the "#MeToo" movement on Twitter, urging women to share their stories about sexual harassment and assault.

The call soon got responses from around the world. Luo Qianqian's claim is being credited as the first one holding great public attention in Asia.

The very evening Luo made the accusation online, Beihang University issued a statement, promising to investigate the case.

A few days later, Chen was relieved of his duties, including as professor and deputy head at the graduate school. Soon afterwards, the Chinese Ministry of Education revoked Chen's qualification in the Yangtze River Scholar program, which is an academic award given to prestigious individuals in higher education. The ministry also decided to take back all previous award funding given to Chen.

The quick response and strong stance of the Chinese authorities won applause from the public.

For a long time, due to unequal power relationships and social discrimination, many women chose to remain silent after being harassed sexually. To Chinese women who've had similar experiences, it's even more difficult to speak out, as Chinese society still holds very conservative attitudes toward sex.

China began paying attention to sexual assault and harassment later than European and American countries. However, with the elevation of Chinese women's status and changes in sexual attitudes, China has made great progress in combating such misconduct.

An increasing number of sexual assault and harassment cases have been entering legal proceedings since the end of the 20th century, and the issue was specially addressed by Chinese law in 2005.

The bravery of Luo Qianqian and other women who followed suit signaled the rise of feminist consciousness in China. But what has drawn more attention from domestic and foreign media is China's resolute and tough reaction to the cases, which reflected the country's progress in social development and human rights protection.

While looking forward to more changes, we need to give more thought and make more effort to end sexual assault and harassment, "a problem plaguing the world."

For example, some expressed their doubts about the "#MeToo" movement by asking whether an unpleasant conversation should be "overstated" as sexual assault or harassment. This question reminds us of the difficulties in defining and interpreting the term.

Meanwhile, we should be aware that women are not the only targets of sexual assault and harassment, as men are also prone to similar treatment.

Undoubtedly, the movement has gained tremendous power, but its real influence lies in providing strong support for each vulnerable individual when she or he is the victim of sexual misconduct.

China Mosaic

China's #MeToo means more than courage


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