The suicide of a teenager in China whose sexual harassment case was dismissed has triggered a bout of national soul-searching over her treatment and anger at onlookers who encouraged her to jump off a building.
Li Yiyi, 19, died last week after throwing herself from the eighth floor of a department store in Qingyang, a city in Gansu Province, following previous suicide attempts, police said.
A public outcry erupted after videos of the scene circulated online and reports that some bystanders had jeered her and urged the young woman to “jump quickly,” while firefighters tried to save her.
The police on Monday said they had detained two people who had booed and started investigations into six others for verbally abusive online posts about Li.
“The world is getting more and more indifferent. I’m scared. Just how mentally defected are those people who booed her to jump?” questioned one user on a Chinese microblogging site.
The case has put a new spotlight on the struggle among Chinese women to get legal help in sexual abuse allegations.
The teenager had been upset because prosecutors cleared a high school teacher whom she had accused of forcibly kissing her and trying take her clothes off in September 2016.
Li and her father had repeatedly sought charges against the teacher, but local prosecutors decided not to try him, declaring that his behavior was a “slight” offense that did not constitute a crime.
She appealed to a higher prosecutor, who also rejected her case.
The teacher was briefly detained, but kept his job.
“She fought for two years. Except for her father, no one — including teachers, the school, the court and the prosecutor — cared about her pain. Only those firefighters kept trying to save her,” a microblog user wrote.
Sexual harassment cases have rocked Chinese university campuses in the past few months, fueling a #MeToo movement that has been more low-key than in other countries due to censorship by the authorities.
There is no legal definition of sexual harassment in China and no national regulations on how to handle sexual assault cases in schools and workplaces.
Very few sexual assault cases are prosecuted due to lack of evidence, and a lack of respect for women has contributed to such cases not being taken seriously in China, said Guo Jianmei (郭建梅), a women’s rights lawyer in Beijing.
“Her case is a typical pattern where her helplessness and loneliness after long-term pressure sent her toward a death path,” Guo said.
“It happens a lot, and it is hidden harassment, which is hard to get convicted as there is no obvious violence in the action,” she said.
“She was actually very brave as she went to the police and talked about it. Most girls just cry in private and then become depressed,” Guo said.
A 26-year-old Chinese graduate student drew social media praise last month after she tried to sue police for dismissing her rape report — it was believed to be the first such attempt to challenge the authorities on a sexual assault allegation.
The burden of proof is high for alleged victims, lawyers said.
In a survey of more than 6,500 Chinese students, conducted by the Guangzhou Gender and Sexuality Education Centre last year, 70 percent reported having been sexually harassed and more than 40 percent said the cases took place in public areas on campus.
However, only 4 percent of women and even fewer men reported campus sexual abuse cases to police, a 2015 Sina.com survey said.
Li had attempted to kill herself four other times before taking her own life, police said, adding that the teacher was detained for 10 days on a minor offense.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of