When a younger feminine worker at Alibaba, one of China’s biggest technology firms, accused her supervisor and an organization shopper of sexually assaulting her after an alcohol-fueled work dinner final summer season, it appeared like a turning level for the nation’s fledgling #MeToo movement.
Months later, it had not performed out that means.
In September, prosecutors decided not to charge the woman’s boss as a result of they stated his habits didn’t represent against the law. In November, Alibaba fired the woman, who has been recognized by the police and her attorneys solely by her surname, Zhou. The corporate claimed Ms. Zhou had broken its fame by spreading falsehoods.
However now, within the newest improvement, a Chinese language courtroom on Wednesday discovered Zhang Guo — the corporate shopper whom Ms. Zhou accused of sexually assaulting her alongside along with her boss — responsible of “forcible indecency.” It ordered Mr. Zhang to serve 18 months in jail, turning into one of many few high-profile cases of males in China being held accountable after accusations of sexual assault.
The Individuals’s Court docket of Huaiyin District in jap China wrote in its ruling that, in accordance with its findings, Mr. Zhang took benefit of Ms. Zhou’s intoxication and that he molested her close to the restaurant’s entrance desk and in a personal eating room. It additionally discovered that Mr. Zhang went to her resort room the subsequent day and assaulted her once more.
Alibaba fired Ms. Zhou’s former boss, recognized in information studies by his surname, Wang, in August after Ms. Zhou publicly accused him of rape. Alibaba didn’t instantly reply to a request for a remark about Wednesday’s courtroom choice towards Mr. Zhang. Feng Yanqiang, Mr. Zhang’s lawyer, stated the decision was flawed and referred to as his shopper harmless. Mr. Zhang said in courtroom that he deliberate to attraction the choice, his lawyer stated.
Ms. Zhou stated in written responses to questions that Mr. Zhang’s sentence was shorter than what she had anticipated. She stated that the episode had induced her psychological and bodily well being to deteriorate, and that she frightened the courtroom’s choice would discourage different girls from coming ahead in China.
“I can’t simply encourage extra girls to be sturdy and courageous, as a result of I understand how painful and troublesome this course of is,” she stated. However as an alternative of “dying” with out solutions, she added, “one ought to choose to combat arduous and get justice.”
The incident attracted nationwide consideration final 12 months when Ms. Zhou stood up and screamed in regards to the sexual assault in considered one of Alibaba’s cafeterias. A video posted on-line confirmed her loudly accusing her bosses and human assets of ignoring her complaints. Because the video unfold on social media, it induced an uproar amongst viewers offended with the various biases and energy imbalances girls in China face.
The #MeToo movement has struggled to realize momentum within the nation. Girls who accuse males of sexual harassment or of making a poisonous office are incessantly met with vitriol on-line. Establishments promote messages of feminine empowerment, however many ladies say accusations of misconduct by colleagues or superiors are sometimes ignored.
The courtroom on Wednesday stated the prosecution offered “dependable and ample proof” in constructing the case towards Mr. Zhang. It stated Mr. Zhang didn’t confess nor had he requested for forgiveness. Chinese language information media stated that neither Ms. Zhou nor Mr. Wang, who have been each listed as witnesses, appeared in courtroom through the two-day trial in early June.
Claire Fu contributed analysis.