When a younger feminine worker at Alibaba, one among China’s greatest know-how corporations, accused her supervisor and an organization consumer of sexually assaulting her after an alcohol-fueled work dinner final summer time, it appeared like a turning level for the nation’s fledgling #MeToo motion.
Months later, it had not performed out that approach.
In September, prosecutors determined to not cost the lady’s boss as a result of, they mentioned, his conduct didn’t represent a criminal offense. In November, Alibaba fired the lady, who has been recognized by the police and her legal professionals solely by her surname, Zhou. The corporate claimed Ms. Zhou had broken its status by spreading falsehoods.
However now, within the newest growth, a Chinese language court docket on Wednesday discovered Zhang Guo — the corporate consumer 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, one of many few high-profile cases of males in China being held accountable after accusations of sexual assault.
The Individuals’s Courtroom of Huaiyin District in jap China wrote in its ruling that, in keeping with its findings, Mr. Zhang had taken benefit of Ms. Zhou’s intoxication and molested her close to the restaurant’s entrance desk and in a personal eating room. It additionally discovered that Mr. Zhang had gone to her lodge 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 court docket resolution in opposition to Mr. Zhang. Feng Yanqiang, Mr. Zhang’s lawyer, mentioned the decision was unsuitable and referred to as his consumer harmless. Mr. Zhang acknowledged in court docket that he deliberate to attraction the choice, his lawyer mentioned.
Ms. Zhou mentioned in written responses to questions that Mr. Zhang’s sentence was shorter than what she had anticipated. She mentioned that the episode had brought on her psychological and bodily well being to deteriorate, and that she fearful the court docket’s resolution would discourage different girls from coming ahead in China.
“I can’t simply encourage extra girls to be robust and courageous, as a result of I understand how painful and troublesome this course of is,” she mentioned. However as a substitute of “dying” with out solutions, she added, “one ought to choose to struggle arduous and get justice.”
The incident attracted nationwide consideration final yr when Ms. Zhou stood up and screamed concerning the sexual assault in one among 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 brought on an uproar amongst viewers offended with the various biases and energy imbalances girls in China face.
The #MeToo motion has struggled to realize momentum within the nation. Girls who accuse males of sexual harassment or of making a poisonous office are often 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 court docket mentioned on Wednesday that the prosecution had supplied “dependable and adequate proof” in constructing the case in opposition to Mr. Zhang. It mentioned Mr. Zhang had not confessed or requested for forgiveness. Chinese language information media mentioned neither Ms. Zhou nor Mr. Wang, who had each been listed as witnesses, appeared in court docket throughout the two-day trial in early June.
Claire Fu contributed analysis.