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China’s Zhou Xiaoxuan loses appeal in landmark #MeToo case




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A Beijing court on Wednesday dealt a major blow to China’s beleaguered #MeToo movement, rejecting the appeal of a woman whose harassment claims against a TV host had inspired dozens of others to come forward about their attacks.

In a closed-door trial, said the court it had rejected an appeal by Zhou Xiaoxuan, 29, against an earlier ruling that dismissed her claims due to insufficient evidence, Reuters reported.

Zhou had sued Zhu Jun, a star presenter at state broadcaster CCTV, for emotional harm after accusing her of forcibly fondling and kissing her while she was an intern at the channel in 2014.

She first came forward in 2018, using the online pseudonym Xianzi to accuse Zhu of harassment on the popular Chinese blogging service Weibo. Zhu has denied the allegations and filed a defamation suit against Zhou.

But her account sparked a firestorm in China and prompted many other women to publicly share their stories of sexual assault.

Beijing court dismisses landmark #MeToo case as authorities censor discussions

In recent years, the Chinese authorities have taken some steps towards it strengthen the laws against sexual abuse, but the country’s women’s rights movement remains under constant criticism, with some officials claiming it is a tool used by Western countries to destabilize China. As a result, victims of sexual harassment in China often avoided filing complaints, worried they might face a public backlash, rights advocates say.

Zhou first brought her case to the Hadian People’s Court, filing a complaint under the personality rights law that covers complaints about an individual’s body and health. But in 2020, China passed a new one civil Code aimed at cracking down on sexual harassment in the workplace, and Zhou’s lawyers then asked to have her lawsuit heard under the new framework.

However, the court ruled in 2021 that she did not meet the burden of proof. She vowed to appeal her case despite what she said was an emotional surge from the proceedings.

I don’t think there’s anything more I can do, Zhou said outside court after her case was dismissed last year. I can’t do this for another three years.

Before Wednesday’s decision, Britain Guardian The newspaper reported that Zhou’s legal team was focused on gathering more evidence, including surveillance footage and police transcripts of interviews with her parents after she reported the incident.

Deep down, I am very disappointed, Zhou told the Guardian. But perhaps at this stage and in such a case, the fact that I lost the battle could provoke more reflection on the real difficulty of being a woman in China today.




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