WeChat censors victim of sexual harassment in Shanghai, who is criticized for 'overreacting' - SupChina

WeChat censors victim of sexual harassment in Shanghai, who is criticized for ‘overreacting’

Earlier today we ran the story of Vera Lui Lai-yiu 吕丽瑶, a champion hurdler in Hong Kong who recently revealed she was a victim of sexual assault at the hands of a former coach. Her story, posted onto her Facebook page, generated a wealth of positive responses, such as, “Support you and appreciate your bravery, hope you get out of it and continue to bring medals to Hong Kong!”

Meanwhile, in mainland China, a Shanghai woman’s post today on Sina Weibo (in Chinese), in which she said she was molested by a neighborhood man three times over two years, is going viral on Chinese social media, but for the wrong reasons. In the post — which first appeared on the woman’s WeChat — the author, whose pseudonym is Baxixulaoshi 巴西徐老师, said she reported the offender to a local police station after each attack, but the police kept telling her that the man “is too old to be arrested,” fearing that he might “cause additional trouble” for them if he dies in custody.

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“I kept taking photos of him and exposing him on Weibo,” the woman wrote, adding that she did everything she could, but the man didn’t receive any form of punishment and is still wandering the streets freely, molesting women. “If you don’t want such things to happen to you, or women you care about, please share this article,” the women wrote. “I want to empower more female victims of sexual harassment to speak out.”

The widely circulated article, however, was censored on WeChat merely one day after its publication. On the author’s Weibo account, she posted a notice (in Chinese) from WeChat authorities, who said the article had been removed because it violated some of the platform’s relevant regulations and that the decision was made after receiving too many complaints from users:

Wondering who would report such a courageous article? You can get an idea from this deluge of nasty comments (in Chinese) that appeared below her post:

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  • “What did you lose? It’s just a grope. Why are you so overreacting? You must have been living in a greenhouse and never experienced any setbacks in your life before. You think the world is just, so you want a fair result, but I guarantee you that you’ll have more doubts about your life when you encounter a real groper.”
  • “He is an old man. Why do you keep making a fuss over it? Just get over it. If I were you, I would just let it go.”
  • “Imagine if there are two women in front of this man, one dresses revealingly and one dresses conservatively. Which one would he grope? You should find some problems in yourself!”

On the most recent episode of Sinica, author Leta Hong Fincher talked about how the government is complicit in allowing sexism and sexual harassment go unchecked in China, and how censors and the state-controlled press tend to recoil from “socially destabilizing” allegations. This is what she means. In China, the #MeToo movement still has a long way to go.

Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.


  1. Godfree Roberts Reply

    Since this is written for Western readers, a concluding paragraph summarizing traditional Chinese attitudes to such things would be useful. Those Chinese commenters are not coming from the same cultural place as such commenters in the West would be.

    1. Will Kemp Reply

      No, they’re coming from a place of toxic entitlement. There is no need for an explanation of traditional culture because their is no excuse for behaviour like theirs. Apparently you feel the type of scum who hector an abuse victim need to be treated fairly but can’t even be bothered to show support for the victim. Nice sense of priorities.

    2. Will Kemp Reply

      Tell you what, how about this for a summary:

      ‘Traditional Chinese Culture is a term used by people who feel a powerful need to justify abuse and bigotry to describe the disrespect and disdain with which many Chinese men treat women. It is completely irrelevant in this context and has only been brought up because the poster feels he can’t openly say that he sympathises with the abusers rather than the victim.’

      Ok, to be fair, there is the famous passage in Mengzi where the great sage writes: ‘If a woman reports abuse on WeChat, be sure to pile on like a pack of wolves. This is the way of the Scholar and brings society back into accordance with the Dao. No man can call himself my follower if he doesn’t spend his time hectoring abuse victims on social media like a coward.

  2. ChairmanMaose Reply

    China’s a man’s world. “Woman hold up half the sky” is nonsense. It’s only in the best interest for Chinese men to keep woman as second class citizens so they don’t have anymore competition than they already do. An empowered Chinese woman is a force to be reckoned with.

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