China’s recent rape scandals are a #MeToo victory, activists say — even if the government won’t admit it

China’s recent rape scandals are a #MeToo victory, activists say. Two explosive rape allegations have rocked China in recent weeks, turning a spotlight on the country’s stifled #MeToo movement and problems of sexual assault.

E-commerce giant Alibaba said it had fired an employee who was accused of sexually assaulting another employee during a business trip.

The week before, Beijing police said they had arrested Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu on suspicion of rape, according to a statement.

In both cases, victims had posted their allegations on Chinese social media, which sparked an online furor and prompted police to investigate. Neither Wu nor the Alibaba employee have been charged with any crime.

“It is unsurprising that both cases have drawn such wide attention, given (Kris Wu) and Alibaba’s high profile,” said Feng Yuan, a feminist scholar and activist. “But this also serves as a reminder that for many other cases of sexual harassment and assault, if the accused are not so famous or influential, (victims) might not have their voices heard at all.”

Sexual assault survivors have long faced strong stigma and resistance in China, at the official level as well as among the public. And while surveys in recent years suggest that sexual assault and harassment is prevalent in the country of 1.4 billion people, the number of actual prosecutions is small.

Between 2013 and 2017, 43,000 people were prosecuted for “crimes of violating women’s personal rights,” according to the office of China’s top prosecutor. Those crimes include trafficking, rape and forced prostitution.

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