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MeToo supporters in China becoming increasingly discouraged after delay in sexual harassment case

ANI | Updated: May 23, 2021 18:48 IST

Beijing [China], May 23 (ANI): China's MeToo supporters are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the prospects of cases filed by accusers after the delay in the case of a former intern at the country's state broadcaster, who alleged sexual harassment against well-known TV anchor Zhu Jun.
Zhou Xiaoxuan, who filed a case against Zhu for sexual harassment in 2018, posted a message on China's microblogging site Weibo service saying that the court notified her lawyers that her case would be delayed, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The delay in the hearing has discouraged the people who were willing to come forward to speak against sexual harrasment.
The Chinese court system is often opaque and does not reveal its processes and reasoning for decisions to the public. However, many of her supporters expressed disappointment about the delay. Zhou also claimed that the court has not offered her any explanation for the delay or given her a new court date.
Darius Longarino, an expert on Chinese law at Yale University, said that Zhou's case is sensitive as it involved a high-profile state media personality and is generating a lot of discussions.
He further said that the court had no basis to reject Zhou's request to classify her claim as a sexual harassment case, adding that other court cases in which such cases did not take place in an educational facility have proceeded under such a classification.
Zhou had filed her lawsuit in 2018 claiming an infringement on personal dignity because that was the legal option available at the time for those alleging sexual harassment. She amended her case once China's apex court allowed sexual harassment as a cause for action in 2019.

The MeToo discussion in China took off in 2018, after a series of allegations and petitions by university students and alumni complaining of sexual harassment by professors, reported WSJ.
Since then, though, the movement has collided with what activists say are cultural norms that frown on questioning the status quo and deep-seated biases against women in society.
However, women who have come forward with similar allegations have ended up being the prime target of threats and defamation cases by the accused. Beijing has sought to keep a lid on grassroots campaigns of all kinds, including those for women's rights.
Fen Yuan, a prominent feminist scholar, said that the censorship of the MeToo movement on the Chinese internet is a major challenge for the movement.
"They think people raising awareness of the problem are a threat to social stability. Almost all cases that come out are treated as a public relations issue," she said, while expressing anger that the court had informed Zhou of the delay just hours before the hearing.
Meanwhile, the accused, Zhu, had lodged a defamation case against Zhou, accusing her of posting slanderous and inaccurate material on Weibo out of ill will, reports WSJ.
Meanwhile, Chen Mi, a college student, said she did not see much of a future for MeToo in China because of the trial's delay and the way Zhou said her case was being handled.
Meanwhile, Xiong Jing, a former editor at a Chinese media platform, said that Zhou's case was a blow to other Chinese victims of sexual harassment. "It's discouraging," she said. (ANI)