Chinese court rejects appeal in landmark #MeToo case

Zhu Xiaoxuan, known in China as Xianzhi, became the face of the country’s #MeToo movement in 2018 when she accused CCTV host Zhu Jun of forcibly groping and forcefully kissing her in a dressing room four years ago when she was 21. – The old intern is working on his show.

Zhou, who was 50 at the time of the alleged incident, denied the allegations and sued Zhou for defamation. She then countersued and began a year-long legal battle A comprehensive crackdown Online discussions on feminist activism and women’s rights from the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
In a court in Beijing last September, Dr ruled against Zhou, citing “insufficient evidence.” In response, she accused the court of failing to ensure procedural fairness. Zhou said the judge refused her repeated requests to retrieve corroborating evidence, such as security camera footage from outside the dressing room.

On Wednesday, the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court rejected her appeal on the same grounds.

“The court held that the evidence presented by the appellant Zhou was not sufficient to prove that Zhou had sexually harassed her and the appeal could not be sustained,” the court said on its official Weibo account.

Crackdown on feminist activism

Chinese media outlets initially covered Zhou’s 2018 allegations, and she gained widespread support on social media, gaining more than 300,000 followers on the microblogging site Weibo.

In recent years, however, young Chinese feminists have faced increasingly harsh censorship and misogynistic attacks from state actors and nationalist trolls.

Zhou’s Weibo account has been blocked since last year — as have the accounts of many of her supporters.

Online trolls have accused Zhou of lying and “collusion with foreign powers” — a stock Communist Party phrase used by nationalists to slander anyone from dissidents and academics to health experts who oppose the country’s zero-covid policy.

Outside the court on Wednesday, police and plainclothes security agents cordoned off sidewalks to prevent Zhou’s supporters from gathering, with officers registering passers-by’s national ID numbers.

An intern confronts one of China's biggest TV stars in the #MeToo case.  She lost, but vowed to fight

A small group of supporters greeted Zhou at a nearby playground, giving her bouquets and holding up signs of encouragement. One of them wrote: “History and we the people are on your side, Xianzi!”

Others showed their solidarity online. Many shared a seven-minute video of Zhou recorded on Tuesday, in which she urged supporters not to despair.

“It makes sense to fight it ourselves. It will have a big impact on the community,” she said. “I have never regretted going forward and enduring all of this. I hope you all share my belief that every effort is worthwhile.”

But conversations about the case were heavily censored.

On Weibo, some posts about Zhou’s hearing were blocked, and Liang Xiaomen, an outspoken Chinese feminist and public interest lawyer in New York, said her WeChat account was permanently banned on Tuesday after she shared information about the case and expressed support for Zhou.

“Many voices supporting Xianzi have been banned online, while her critics and trolls are as active as ever,” Liang said. “Many of her supporters are very nervous — (our online community) was fractured and we didn’t have a place to come together and create a unified voice.”

Legal challenges

When Zhou took the matter to court in 2018, she sued Zhou for violating “personality rights” because China does not specify sexual harassment as a legal crime.

Last year, China enacted a civil code defining sexual harassment into the country’s law for the first time.

The code says that a person can bring a civil claim against someone who sexually harasses them against their will by “verbal comments, written language, images, physical conduct or otherwise”.

Despite the introduction of the code, Liang said Zhou’s case illustrated how survivors of gender-based violence still face tough legal battles in China. “This case is a bloody testament to how China’s judiciary views victims of sexual harassment and those who are willing to come forward and take legal action,” she said.

Chinese feminists are being silenced by nationalist trolls.  Some are fighting back

Legal experts who study sexual harassment cases in China say victims face almost unbearable problems because courts give little credence to testimony and always look for ‘smoking gun’ evidence.

“If I hadn’t started a lawsuit myself, I would never have known when other women who had been sexually assaulted had been admitted. [judicial] system,” Zhou told supporters in her video. “We’re still in an environment where we have to sacrifice our emotions, sacrifice our pain in exchange for understanding.”

Zhou told supporters as she left court after a hearing Wednesday evening that this was the last legal effort she could make in the case.

“After the hearing, the judge told me that it’s been eight years since I called the police in 2014, and I should have my own life plan. But what I want to say is that my life plan is to dedicate myself to this case. And hope for a good outcome. . Now I can’t continue with that plan,” she said.

“The judicial system has no inherent authority, nor is the court’s verdict inherently true… I hope that the next litigant who walks into this courtroom will be more understanding than others.”

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