Prominent Chinese #MeToo Figure Vows to Appeal After Losing Case

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A former television intern, Zhou Xiaoshuan, became a leading voice in the movement after a star presenter was accused of assault.

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A former television intern who became a leading voice in China’s #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment has vowed to fight back after a Beijing court ruled she did not have enough evidence in her harassment case against a star presenter. were presented.

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The former intern, Zhou Xiaosuan, told supporters and reporters outside the Haidian District Court in Beijing that she would appeal after judges ruled against her claim late Tuesday.

Ms Zhou insisted in 2018 that Zhu Jun had assaulted her in the dressing room four years earlier. Mr. Zhu denied that allegation and sued Ms. Zhou, and she countered. Her legal battle became a focal point in China’s growing movement against sexual harassment of women.

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Beijing court dismisses Ms Zhou’s Case in a brief online description Which did not go to the essence of his claims. “She presented insufficient evidence to substantiate her claim that a certain Zhu had engaged in sexual harassment,” the court said.

Standing in the street in front of the courthouse shortly after the verdict, Ms Zhou – who is widely known in China by her surname, Xuanzi – said the judges had given her little opportunity to elaborate on her allegations. She said they had rejected her lawyer’s efforts to find what she said was supporting evidence, such as video footage from outside the dressing room, as well as police interview notes with her parents from shortly after the incident.

“Ultimately, the court did not give us any room to make a statement,” she said in a 10-minute statement around midnight, swinging between resignation and defiance.

“I think I’ve done everything I could,” she said. “I can’t try any more. They didn’t ask if I would appeal. I will, but I think I’ve already given it my all.”

A small crowd applauded Ms. Zhou, some shouting, “Keep going.”

But Ms. Zhou faces several obstacles to getting official attention for her complaint against Mr. Zhu, especially in China’s increasingly cold political climate, where officials are wary of any complaints outside channels, which they can strictly control.

His allegations against Mr. Zhu hit the internet at a time when the Chinese government was shocked by a wave of complaints from women about sexual harassment by men. Many of the women who spoke were students or young professionals who said that professors or workplace superiors had pressured them into sex. Initially, Chinese news outlets were able to broadcast women’s suppressed complaints about abuse that were ignored by the authorities.

“People are not allowed to show their pain and wounds,” Ms Zhou told The Times in an interview at the time. “Many women worry that they will be seen crying.”

She has said that while working as an intern at CCTV in 2014, she was asked to carry fruit to the dressing room of Mr. Zhu, one of the network’s most famous anchors. Inside the room, Mr. Zhu forcibly kissed and groped her, she said.

She remained largely silent about the experience until 2018, when a growing global fervor against sexual harassment also took hold in China, and she wrote a lengthy account that spread across the Internet after it was shared by a friend of hers.

“It is important for every girl to speak up and say what she has gone through,” she wrote in the essay. “We need to make sure that society knows these genocide exist.”

Mr. Zhu insisted that he had fabricated his account to defame her. He then claimed that he had damaged her dignity. “Let’s get ready to fight,” she wrote online.

Since then, the Chinese Communist Party has moved to rein in public protests and controversy over women’s rights, and fewer such cases have surfaced on the Internet.

The one exception was in July, when police detained a popular Canadian Chinese singer Chris Wu after an 18-year-old university student in Beijing accused him of offering to help young women with their careers and then sexually assaulting them. accused of making . He has denied the allegations.

Mr Wu was formally arrested last month On suspicion of rape. His case became one of several scandals that prompted the Chinese government to crack down on youth celebrity culture and warned actors and performers to stick to official rules for propriety.

Ms. Zhou has been banned from the popular Chinese social media service Weibo, where her claims against Mr. Zhu first spread. News of his loss in court spread on Weibo on Wednesday, but many reactions online were critical of him, with some accusing him of acting as a pawn of forces hostile to China.

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