2021-09-15 03:15:13 Zhou Xiaoxuan, Known as Xuanzi, Loses Her China #MeToo Case
Zhou Xiaoxuan, Known as Xuanzi, Loses Her China #MeToo Case
A former television intern who became a prominent voice in China’s #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment has vowed to continue fighting after a Beijing court ruled that she had not produced enough evidence in her harassment case against a star presenter.
Zhou Xiaoxuan, the former intern, told supporters and journalists outside the Haidian District Court in Beijing that she would appeal after judges denied her claim late Tuesday night. Ms. Zhou claimed in 2018 that he assaulted her in a locker room four years before.
Mr. Zhu denied the charge and sued Ms. Zhou, who countersued him. Their legal battles became a focal point in China’s growing movement against female sexual coercion. Ms. Zhou’s case was dismissed by a Beijing court in a brief online statement that did not address the substance of her claims.
The court stated that she had “tendered insufficient evidence to prove her assertion that a certain Zhu had engaged in sexual harassment.” Ms. Zhou, who is widely known in China by her nickname, Xuanzi, said on the street in front of the courthouse shortly after the decision that the judges had given her little opportunity to detail her allegations.
She claimed that they had rejected her lawyer’s attempts to introduce what she claimed was supporting evidence, such as video footage from outside the dressing room and police interview notes with her parents from shortly after the incident.
“Ultimately, the court did not provide us with any space for making a statement,” she said in a 10-minute statement around midnight that alternated between resignation and defiance.
“I believe I have done everything I possibly can,” she added. “I can’t put forth any more effort. They didn’t even ask if I planned to appeal. I will, but I believe I have already given it my all.” Ms. Zhou was applauded by a small crowd, with some shouting, “Keep going!”
However, Ms. Zhou faces numerous obstacles in gaining official attention for her complaint against Mr. Zhu, particularly in China’s increasingly chilly political climate, where officials are wary of any complaints that do not come through channels that they can strictly control.
Her allegations against Mr. Zhu erupted on the internet at a time when the Chinese government appeared taken aback by a flood of complaints from women alleging sexual coercion by men.
Many of the women who spoke out were students or young professionals who claimed that their professors or bosses had pressed them for sex. Initially, Chinese news outlets were able to air women’s long-unheard complaints about misbehavior that had been ignored by authorities.
“People are not allowed to show their pain and wounds,” Ms. Zhou said in an interview with The Times at the time. “Many women are concerned that they will be perceived as whining.”
She claims that while working as an intern at C.C.T.V. in 2014, she was asked to bring fruit to Mr. Zhu’s, one of the network’s most famous anchors, dressing room.
Mr. Zhu forcibly kissed and groped her inside the room, she claimed. She remained largely silent about the experience until 2018, when a growing global backlash against sexual harassment took hold in China, and she wrote a lengthy account that went viral after a friend shared it.
“It is important for every girl to speak up and express what she has gone through,” she wrote in her essay. “We must ensure that society is aware of the existence of these massacres.”
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Mr. Zhu claimed she made up her story in order to slander him. She then claimed that he had harmed her dignity. “Let’s get ready to fight,” she wrote on social media. Since then, the Chinese Communist Party has taken steps to limit public protest and contention over women’s rights, and fewer such incidents have surfaced on the internet.
In July, police detained Kris Wu, a popular Canadian Chinese singer, after an 18-year-old university student in Beijing accused him of offering young women like her career assistance and then pressuring them to have sex.
He has denied the charges. Mr. Wu was formally arrested on suspicion of rape last month. His case was one of several that prompted the Chinese government to crack down on youth celebrity culture and warn actors and performers to follow official rules for propriety.
Ms. Zhou has been barred from using Weibo, the popular Chinese social media platform where her allegations against Mr. Zhu first gained traction. On Wednesday, news of her loss in court spread across Weibo, but many of the reactions that remained online were critical of her, with some accusing her of acting as a pawn for forces hostile to China.