The Chinese movement was inspired by the #MeToo campaign. Source: AFP PHOTO / Bertrand Guay.
The Chinese movement was inspired by the #MeToo campaign. Source: AFP PHOTO / Bertrand Guay.

‘The lesbians are making trouble again’

CHINESE women are risking everything to speak out about their horrific experiences of sexual harassment - but some of the country's authorities are not happy.

Inspired by the American #MeToo movement, the #WoYeShi (It's also me) campaign has erupted in recent weeks with thousands of women making their voices heard on social media.

One of those brave women is 28-year-old Xu Yalu, who told the South China Morning Post

she had been sexually harassed on three occasions by the same man in the up-market Shanghai suburb of Jingansi.

"It was July 12 in 2015, a Sunday," she told the newspaper. "Many bystanders gathered, mostly men in their 50s, and they asked me to let the man go, in keeping with the virtues of respecting the elderly and forgiving others.

"I then said to them: 'What if this has happened to your own daughter, would you just let it go?' The crowd went quiet."

But, each time she reported the incidents, police said her harasser was either too old to be detained or he could not help himself because of a neurological condition.

Ms Zhang told the newspaper students had been emboldened by the publicity given to harassment cases in Beijing, Xiamen and Nanchang.

Psychologist Liu Shanshan said she was inspired to speak out about how she narrowly escaped being raped a decade ago when she was a 16-year-old intern at a television station in Guangdong.

"I remembered what my mother had taught me, so I squeezed where it would hurt the most, so hard and so many times, until he literally fainted," she told the Post.

Ms Zhang believes that the movement is a monumental moment for women in China.

"They understand that we victims won't stay silent, and we won't tolerate it any more," she told the Post.

She posted an article on WeChat on November 27 describing how she was groped by the man in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Within two days, the article went viral. It was viewed more than 1.19 million times, received more than 17,000 likes and nearly 9000 comments.

However, this abruptly came to an end when Chinese censors reportedly deleted it.

According to The Australian, thousands of students from more than 60 universities have now signed petitions demanding action against sexual harassment because of the campaign.

However, some of the country's regional authorities are actively opposed to the campaign - accusing its organisers of plotting with foreigners.

"The lesbians are making trouble again," posted a lecturer at a university in Guangzhou, according to a report in The Australian.

Leta Hong Fincher, an expert in China's feminist movement, told The Guardian the Chinese Communist party had an almost entirely male leadership and it felt "spooked" by the campaign.

"There is a history of the Chinese government being really worried about political upheaval outside its borders affecting its own population and there is no question whatsoever that the #MeToo movement is seen by the authorities as potentially posing a threat," she told the newspaper.

"It's OK for an individual woman here and there to come out and talk about her experience … but if any of these women made it a really big deal or started to get a lot of sustained attention on social media I have no doubt that the police or somebody would come and visit her."