China court rejects sexual harassment lawsuit

BEIJING, 15 Sept 2021:

A Chinese court rejected a sexual abuse appeal that is considered to be of great importance for the #MeToo feminist movement in the country, where the relevance is much smaller than in other parts of the world.

In 2018, Zhou Xiaoxuan issued a sexual harassment complaint against Zhu Jun, a well-known CCTV state television host, where she was interning, at a time social media began to portray similar experiences by several Chinese women. Their messages were progressively censored on sites such as the popular Douban network.

In a statement issued late yesterday, the Haidian People’s Court, in Beijing “considered that the evidence presented by plaintiff Zhou was insufficient to prove Zhu’s claim of sexual harassment against her,” so it “rejected the plaintiff’s complaint”.

The court’s WeChat social network account initially published the statement, which it then deleted.

The complainant said this morning, after the notification of the verdict, that the court “rejected all requests” for the inclusion of new evidence to support her case.

“It is not that I cannot accept losing the case, but at least we could have had a full debate during the process. In this session, there was no debate and the court did not give us enough time to defend ourselves.

“I think they delivered the verdict before the trial,” Zhou said as she left court, in whose vicinity a few young people who had come to show their support were waiting, among several security agents, some of them in plain clothes. She also said she would appeal the decision.

According to the court text, “during the trial, the plaintiff and the defendant carried out tests and cross-examinations in accordance with the law, and a full judicial debate took place regarding the focus of the dispute”.

Earlier this month, a court in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan dropped charges against a former employee of the digital conglomerate Alibaba suspected of sexually abusing a subordinate during a work trip as the prosecution interpreted that while the suspect forced the plaintiff to maintain “obscene acts,” the defendant’s behavior “does not constitute a crime.”

Allegations of sexual harassment remain largely taboo in China.

– EFE