#MeToo in the land of censorship – Human Rights Watch

Screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at her home in Beijing, China, on January 16, 2019, detailing her involvement in China's #MeToo movement.

Two years since the #MeToo movementtook offin China, Chinese feminists are battling headwinds in a political environment where the ruling Communist Partys control over the Internet, media and independent activism is tighter than it has been in 30 years.

Chinas party-state has zero tolerance for collective actions, so the countrys #MeToo movement has never been able to manifest in mass street protests. But individual victims have taken their cases to court, demonstrating extraordinary determination and resilience.

Facing intense slut-shaming on Chinese social media platforms and censorship of discussions of her case, University of Minnesota student Liu Jingyao who is suing, in a Minnesota civil court, Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong for an alleged rape vowed tonever settleor sign a nondisclosure agreement (prosecutorsdeclined to charge him in the case, and he maintains that the sex was consensual). Similarly, screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan who is suing, in a Beijing court, famed state media anchor Zhu Jun for alleged sexual harassment and assault, which hedeniessaid, Even giving me 100 million [yuan], I wouldnt settle.

Under pressure, the Chinese government has made limited improvements. In December 2018, the Supreme Courtadded sexual harassmentto the list of causes of action, making it easier for #MeToo victims to seek redress. Yet China still lacks robust laws against sexual harassment.

Silenced in their home country, Chinese feminists have increasingly found footingoverseas. Utilizing the relatively free and safe space in Western countries, #MeToo activistshold protests, discussions and trainings, and provide support to their counterparts inside China.

In late 2019, authorities detained Huang Xueqin, a journalist and leading figure in Chinas #MeToo movement, for three months for unknown reasons.Upon release, Huang reportedly wrote: This is Xueqin, and Im back. One second of darkness doesnt make people blind.

Amid the vast darkness, nevertheless, Chinese feminists persisted.

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#MeToo in the land of censorship - Human Rights Watch

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