Thursday, 12 April 2018

#MeToo 20 Years Later

Gao Yan was a top student at Peking University before she committed suicide
The fledgling #MeToo movement in China got a big boost recently when a literature professor at Nanjing University was suspended for allegedly sexually harassing and raping a student 20 years ago.

At the time 21-year-old Gao Yan, who was a start student, told her friends that professor Shen Yang, who was teaching at Peking University had forced her to have sex. He also apparently spread rumours that Gao was mentally ill.

Shen, 62, has denied the accusations.

Professor Shen Yang allegedly sexually harassed Gao
Her classmates have been pressing for justice ever since she died. During Qing Ming last week when Chinese families sweep graves to remember their relatives and ancestors, one of Gao's friends, Li Youyou posted an essay online, chastising Shen for not apologizing.

"Twenty years have passed. Your constant lies and crimes should be put to an end," she wrote.

In an interview with The Beijing News on Friday, Shen described the accusations as "malicious defamation".

The essay spread quickly online and some Chinese media wrote stories about it, which may have led to to him being fired.

Even Gao's parents complained to the university in 1998 about the alleged sexual assault, and while the tertiary institution did conduct an investigation that found Shen did have sex with Gao, it only issued him a demerit and did not terminate his employment contract.

Shen is the second prominent professor to be sacked due to allegations of sexual misconduct after Chen Xiaowu of Beihang University.

The movement is slowly growing in China (with other names)
Universities in China need to address the power imbalance between students and professors, but also the same patriarchal hierarchy in companies too.

Nevertheless, getting more people to talk about #MeToo or #MiTu or #woyeshi (the Chinese version) is important. And as some say, eventually truth prevails.


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