01/03/2018, 14.22
CHINA
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The 'MeToo' movement against sexual abuse comes to Chinese universities

by Wang Zhicheng

Charges are levelled against a computer science professor from Beihang University. Another professor is accused in Nanchang. China does not have a law on sexual abuse. Traditionally, women are blamed. Mao Zedong's sexual history also needs some airing.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Some Chinese universities have been shaken by claims of sexual abuse made by female students against professors with the allegations posted online using the sexual assault and harassment hashtag #MeToo like in the United States.

A few weeks ago, Luo Qianqian, a Chinese scholar currently living in the US, used the hashtag #MeToo to accuse computer science professor Chen Xiaowu of harassment.

In her post, she says he tried “to force himself upon me behind a locked door" after "duping me" into visiting him at his sister’s house 12 years ago.

Luo, who was one of Chen's PhD students at the time, said he eventually let her leave after she couldn't stop crying.

"The next few years of my life, when he was my supervisor, were a nightmare because he treated me so badly," Luo writes.

Chen, a professor of computer science at Beihang University (previously known as Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) whose work has won national awards, has been suspended pending an investigation.

Chen told the local press that he had done nothing illegal and would leave the matter to investigators.

The allegations against Chen come after Nanchang University removed another, professor, Zhou Bin, from his post as a deputy head of its Institute of Chinese Classics on 18 December after a former student accused him of sexual assault.

The student, whose real name hasn't been made public, detailed sexual assaults lasting for seven months in 2016.

China doesn’t have a law on sexual harassment, but rape is generally punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Beijing-based artist and feminist activist Ye Haiyan told Radio Free Asia that sexual harassment allegations are rarely taken seriously in China, and often women are blamed for not behaving “properly”.

Sexual violence is also a political problem. Some time ago, a woman abused by a local leader of the Communist Party was sentenced to death for killing him with a kitchen knife in self-defence.

An even more sensitive issue is Mao Zedong's sexual behaviour. According to some historians, on several occasions he would ask his secretaries to "prepare" young women and men for group sex.

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