The #MeToo Movement, an all-out revolution aimed at pervasive sexual assault in the workplace and educational institutions took the world by storm last year, but notably lagged in East Asia. Accusations and harrowing accounts of sexual harassment and assault have only just started emerging in China. Now, one of those cases is being seen in court, but rather than the assailant, it is the accuser that is being put on trial.
The woman, identified by the online handle Xianzi, declared that TV host, actor, and celebrity Zhu Jun grabbed her against her will and forced her into a kiss while she worked as an intern delivering fruit.
Xianzi originally posted her 3,000 word assault account to WeChat, but when her friend Xu Chao shared it on Weibo, it quickly went viral.
Zhu Jun denied all allegations and took things a step further by suing both Xianzi and Xu Chao for damaging his reputation and mental wellbeing. The 54-year-old performer is widely beloved in China and notably hosts the CCTV New Year’s Gala every year.
Despite the immense public and financial pressure, the 25-year-old accuser is standing her ground and countersuing Jun.
Xianzi also claims that the police pressured her not to go public with her story because of Jun’s popularity and influence. They allegedly told her, his “positive impact” outweighed whether or not she had a right to tell her story. She also added that she had received threatening voicemails, including one where a deep, male voice vowed to attack her mother.
Xianzi is hoping to change the way sex crimes and assault are dealt with in China. In her words:
Many people ask #MeToo victims why you don’t make a report to the police immediately. I’m the one who did report to the police four years ago and I didn’t receive any justice. Still there are people who instruct female victims to do this… but not men. I want to correct this by standing up.
Victims of rape and sexual assault often go opposed or unbelieved in China. A 19-year-old student from Gansu recently took her own life after her university, police, and family refused to take her seriously.
Another notable case was that of Xuecheng, the abbot of the powerful Longquan Temple just outside of Beijing, who was accused of coercing and pressuring multiple nuns into sex. Progress may be slower than the rest of the world, but women and other survivors are evidently realizing that change won’t come unless they speak up.