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MeToo movement spreads in China

Posted April. 26, 2018 07:51,   

Updated April. 26, 2018 07:51

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The MeToo movement is spreading across prestigious universities in China in spite of government authorities’ censorship. At Beijing University, students called for disclosure of data related to previous sexual harassment events, which was denied by the school. But the issue has escalated, with students putting up hand-written posters supporting the disclosure. Students at Renmin University protested against a professor suspected of sexual harassment. The students’ organized movement is seen as the first of its kind since the Tiananmen Square protest.

Weishin, a student at Beijing University, uploaded on Monday a posting criticizing the school’s action on his WeChat account. On April 8, eight students including Weishin called for the disclosure of information regarding the suicide of Kaoyen, who took her own life after suffering from sexual assault by Professor Shunyang in 1998. The school, however, threatened that such behavior would “affect graduation” and replied on last Friday that “no information was available.”

Early morning on Monday, a school faculty member and Weishin’s mother broke into his room. The faculty member demanded that Weishin should “discard all data stored on his mobile phone and computer demanding information disclosure of the event and write a pledge promising not to intervene in the future.” According to Weishin, the school informed Weishin’s mother of distorted information and pressured her to take him home and lock him up. The Financial Times reported that other students that joined Weishin were also suffering from threats and surveillance.

A poster titled “We support warrior Weishin” was posted Monday night at Beijing University. However, China forbids such postings publicly. The author of the poster said that BBC Chinese website reported that school security guards tore down the posters and Beijing University was barred from the search engine for some time. Photos of Weishin’s letter and posters continue to upload on websites, despite government censoring.

Last week, some 40 students at Renmin University held a protest in front of the classroom of an Economics professor suspected of harassing a female student, demanding that the professor clarify the case. Security guards blocked students from entering classrooms and escorted the professor away. The Financial Times reported that the professor was eventually fired. “I’ve never seen a protest before on school grounds,” said a student who informed of the event. There are rumors that a teaching assistant at Tsinghua University sexually assaulted a student, but the school remains silent.


Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com