Near abduction sparks debate about violence towards women in China

By Li Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-7 20:28:01

Photo: IC

A recent video and social media post that have gone viral has sparked outrage and ignited debate concerning violence towards women in China.

The video in question shows a young woman being nearly abducted by a stranger while in the hallway of a hotel in Beijing, while others either ignore the situation or do little to help the woman.

Incident ignored

In a Sina Weibo post on Tuesday, netizen Wanwan described how she was staying at the Yitel Hotel, a mid-to-high end hotel belonging to Home Inns, in Beijing's Wangjing 798 area. As she was exiting the hotel elevator on her way back to her room at around 10:50 pm on Sunday, a man who had been in the elevator got off with her and suddenly asked her which room she was staying in.

After she refused to tell him, the man suddenly started threatening her, dragging her by the arm and trying to get her to come with him.

Her yells attracted a hotel employee. However, even though she shouted that she didn't know the man who was attacking her and asked the employee for help, the employee merely told them not to fight in the hallway without attempting to help her although the man was clearly being violent.

Although other guests got off the same lift later and saw the incident occurring they went on their way. At this point she attempted to flee only to have the man chase after her and try to drag her into the nearby stairwell, at which point the employee and a woman who had overheard the commotion grabbed her to prevent the man from dragging her away.

The details of Wanwan's post are supported by security camera footage she linked to at the end of the post.

While this situation was clearly incredibly frightening for her, what was perhaps worse was the cavalier attitude of both the hotel staff and the police concerning the incident.

No one from the hotel approached Wanwan to ask what exactly had happened or reported the incident to the police. The next day the manager wouldn't even answer her phone calls.

After Wanwan reported the incident to police, she was told the person in charge of these types of cases was not there and wouldn't be back for a few days. Other attempts to contact the police were met with replies that this type of case was not their responsibility.

Frustrated by what had occurred and how it was being dealt with Wanwan decided to turn to social media.

Rising anger

By Thursday evening, her posted video had been viewed more than 650 million times. Her post became one of the most trending topics on social media in China, drawing unprecedented attention from society because it touched a raw nerve for many: the pervasiveness of unfair treatment of women. Meanwhile some netizens were happy to see that a Chinese woman had chosen not to stay quiet.

There are several issues that this case has brought up that reveals some problems that still exist in society and have my, and many other female netizens' blood boiling. 

First, there are those online who have defended the people who saw the incident and decided to move on and the employee for not interfering more directly. Their defense is that these people probably thought it was a fight between a man and his girlfriend.

In response to this, I have to ask: Even if these two had been a couple, why does that make it okay for a man to knock a woman around so violently?  

It's a sad fact that it isn't rare to see couples fighting on the street, sometimes with the man using violence. In most cases onlookers do nothing because they believe they shouldn't interfere in the domestic affairs of others. 

Even in current modern society, many people still have this traditional idea when it comes to violence against women that as long as it's family, there is no need for others or the law to get involved.

This type of thinking is distressing because it opens the doors to criminal behavior such as that which occurred on Sunday. Since the incident occurred, many female netizens have been posting their own similar experiences. It seems that one common factor sees the man telling others that the victim is his girlfriend or wife and that he is just trying to get the distraught woman home. It seems that even in crowded city centers or subway stations, rarely is anyone willing to interfere.

Another issue that I've noticed is that many people's response to this incident has been people pointing out that women need to be more aware of their own safety.

Many of these posts by men, including posts by from major media outlets, involve instructions on what women need to know in order to save themselves from these types of situations. 

The thing is, the woman in this case had already been very cautious. She chose a mid-to-high level hotel in a relatively prosperous area, but still ran afoul of trouble. She called out for help, but most of those around her remained numb and unwilling to step in when needed. She even tried to go through legal channels to report the incident, but since it wasn't getting the attention it deserved she turned to social media.

That's the strangest part of this case.

Since the case went viral, videos, gifs and posts demonstrating self-defense techniques have become all the rage online.

The problem here is that this makes it a woman's responsibility to be safe or insinuates that unless a woman is a kung fu master it's her own fault if she can't defend herself. 

Everyone's problem

Instead of asking women to improve their self-defense skills, giving lectures to raise women's awareness about protecting themselves, we as a society need to take responsibility as a whole in order to make public spaces safe for women, and men, so we can all go out without fear.

Too many Chinese people tend to stay quiet, or simply stand by and watch when cases such as Wanwan's occur. Many feel it is not their problem, but such apathy is actually helping such crimes continue to occur.

Some stay silent because they feel it's a domestic matter, but even when that is the case people should not feel they are doing the right thing by allowing domestic violence to happen. In March, the Anti-Domestic Violence Act was officially implemented in China to provide protection in this area.

The thing is what China lacks are not laws, but implementation and action.

From the reaction of the hotel staff and the police, it's obvious that most people still do not pay enough attention to such cases.

This lack of awareness is the worst part.

Newspaper headline: Taking a stand

Posted in: Relationships

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