Harassment case against a powerful media man is a major moment for the movement, according to accuser Zhou Xiaoxuan. #MeToo in China has seen few victories as sexual misconduct was added as grounds for a suit as late as 2019.
A Chinese woman, who filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit against a TV host, has her case heard in court after over two years.
Zhou Xiaoxuan told cheering supporters at a courthouse on Wednesday that she hopes her case will encourage victims of gender violence in a system that gives them few options to pursue complaints.
The delay of her trial reflects the challenges Chinese women face in pursuing sexual misconduct complaints despite the spread of the global #MeToo movement.
Zhou, 27, has accused Zhu Jun, a popular state TV host, of forcibly kissing her in 2014. She is asking for a public apology as well as $7,600 (50,000 yuan) in damages.
Zhu has denied the accusation and filed a defamation case against Zhou.
“Even if ultimately in this case we don’t get a legal win, as long as we can show to a lot of people (that) there are people like me, those of us who are victims of gender violence, that’s already a type of win,” Zhou said outside the Haidian District People's court in Beijing.
During China's #MeToo in 2018, Zhou Xiaoxuan (Xianzi) posted a 3000-word essay on WeChat accusing TV host Zhu Jun of sexually harassing her in 2014 when she was a CCTV intern. Now, the case is being heard and a protest has sprung up in support – what a rare and amazing sight! https://t.co/ruO4EM5jK4— Jessie Lau (@_laujessie) December 2, 2020
Supporters of Zhou Xiaoxuan, known online as Xianzi, holding banners outside Haidian People’s Court ahead of her hearing. Two years ago, she accused a prominent CCTV host of sexual harassment, sparking an online storm. pic.twitter.com/Iog3OnfZMi— Beiyi Seow (@beiyis) December 2, 2020
#MeToo movement In China
The movement took off in 2018 in China when a college student in Beijing publicly accused her professor of sexual misconduct.
The #MeToo global movement helped encourage activism in China, but came at a time when President Xi Jinping’s government is tightening controls and stamping out dissent.
Women who complain face censorship and official resistance. The movement has seen few victories, and it was only in 2019 that sexual misconduct was added to court regulations as grounds for a suit.
In a rare victory, a woman who used the alias Liu Li won a case against her former boss in July. The boss, a social worker in the western city of Chengdu, was required to issue a public apology but no damages were awarded.
“Together, we want to demand answers from history,” read a sign held by a few dozen supporters outside the courthouse in Beijing on Wednesday. Others carried #Metoo signs.
Many yelled “jiayou,” or “add oil,” a common Chinese phrase as reassurance to Zhou, who cried after speaking.
Videographers working for foreign news agencies were taken away by police soon after Zhou gave her statement. It was unclear why they were held.