China's Faltering #MeToo Movement Faces A New Setback : Goats and Soda An intern accused a well-known TV anchor of forcibly kissing her. In a ruling this week, a Beijing court found that it could not determine whether sexual harassment had occurred.

Court Ruling Deals A Blow To China's Faltering #MeToo Movement

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1037360295/1037639894" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A court in Beijing has ruled against the woman behind one of China's most high-profile sexual harassment cases. The verdict is a blow to China's already-faltering #MeToo movement. NPR's Emily Feng reports.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: In 2018, 28-year-old Zhou Xiaoxuan published one of the most explosive #MeToo allegations to date - that a famous television anchor at China's state broadcaster named Zhu Jun groped and forcibly kissed her in his dressing room four years earlier. She was an intern at the time. She filed suit for a public apology and about $7,000 in damages.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ZHOU XIAOXUAN: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: She says she spent sleepless nights before this week's hearing preparing, but she never expected the hearing would be conducted so poorly. She's disappointed because after a two-year trial, a Beijing court ruled this week that Zhou just did not have enough evidence to prove she was harassed. She says she was blocked from including the evidence she had.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

XIAOXUAN: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: She said, in a tearful statement after the hearing, that the expert witness she summoned was not allowed to testify, that testimonies from family members were not included and requests for video footage and a DNA test refused.

DARIUS LONGARINO: The court in this case seems to have been behaving, to my eyes, oddly.

FENG: Darius Longarino is a researcher at Yale's Paul Tsai Center. He notes Zhou's lawsuit was filed as a personality rights dispute because courts did not allow sexual harassment to be the cause for suing in 2018. Now it is, so...

LONGARINO: She applied to recategorized her case using this more accurate, specific label. But the court so far has refused.

FENG: Longarino and his colleagues found 90% percent of all lawsuits in the last three years concerning sexual harassment are at the alleged harasser suing the victim for damages. That includes Zhou. She's being sued for defamation by the TV anchor.

LONGARINO: When an alleged harasser countersued, let's say, for defamation, the burden of proof in those cases is often reversed, meaning that it is often the defendant who bears the burden of proof to show that the alleged behavior took place.

FENG: Meaning Zhou is the one who has to prove she was harassed. She says she will appeal this week's verdict, but she cried at the prospect of facing another legal battle and ongoing police harassment of her family and supporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

XIAOXUAN: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: She says, "these last three years were the hardest in my life. Can I continue fighting for another three years? I put my entire being into this fight, and it was not enough."

Zhu Jun, the accused, could not be reached for comment. Zhou's lawyer said he did not show up to either court hearing.

Emily Feng, NPR News, Beijing.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.