Chinese #MeToo activist in groping lawsuit hassled outside court

A woman who became the face of China’s #MeToo campaign was shoved and antagonised as she headed to court in one of the few remaining cases related to the protest movement.

hou Xiaoxuan, a former intern at Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, went public with accusations against a prominent CCTV host in 2018.

Since then, the movement has been largely shut down by authorities as activists found their online posts censored and faced pressure from authorities when trying to hold protests.

Despite this, Ms Zhou has continued to speak out.

Several people tried to prevent her from talking to reporters as she headed to court, while a supporter had a sign ripped out of her hand.

Ms Zhou told reporters: “I’m very thankful for everyone. Whether we win or lose, I’m very honoured to have experienced these last three years.”

As she spoke, unidentified men and women came up and tried to push her away.

One woman yelled “Pandemic safety”, trying to prevent Ms Zhou from speaking, while a man questioned whether it was appropriate for her to speak alone.

A transgender woman who tried to hold up a sign reading “Standing Together” was surrounded by police and had the sign ripped out of her hand.

She said later that police then asked for her national identification number.

The proceedings mark the final hearing in a lawsuit brought by Ms Zhou against CCTV host Zhu Jun, after she accused him of groping and forcibly kissing her in 2014.

She is asking for a public apology as well as 50,000 yuan (€7,000) in damages.

While the movement no longer holds protests and lawyers and others are helping victims take legal action, some people are still pushing to get justice for victims of sexual violence, even if they do not cite the #MeToo label.

A series of sexual assault and rape accusations in recent weeks has drawn national attention.

The most prominent was an accusation of sexual assault made by an Alibaba employee against two men.

Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu was also arrested in Beijing on suspicion of rape over accusations made online.

“These incidents are a part of #MeToo, without a doubt,” said Lu Pin, the founder of Feminist Voices, an online publication that was shut down by censors in 2018.

“Without #MeToo, it’s impossible to imagine these types of things coming out.”

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