Peng Shuai saga reveals systematic skepticism against sex assault allegations
来源: 大中报 南茜(Nancy Jin)
Peng Shuai’s sexual assault allegations against an influential political leader in China have triggered a global firestorm. In her late-night essay, the Chinese tennis campaign accused Zhang Gaoli, the 75-year-old senior Chinese party leader, of imposing unwanted sex on her during a decade-long affair. As the controversy increasingly gains the global spotlight, Beijing has beefed up its effort to sweep the scandal under the rug. Amid growing global demand for a full, fair and transparent investigation, the state media released an email where Peng disowned her claims. Meanwhile, widespread censorship swept through China in a bid to block any coverage of her story.
Peng Shuai's saga has exposed the Chinese regime's ruthless effort to silence the controversy. It has also revealed the profound challenges sexual assault survivors in China face in seeking justice, putting China's MeToo Movement under the global spotlight. Zhou Xiao Xuan, a leading figure of China's MeToo Movement, faced crippling setbacks as she took on one of China's most popular TV stars in a landmark case. After she turned down the police demand to drop her complaints against the man she accused of sexually assaulting her, the defiant young feminist found her accounts on Weibo suspended and that the lawsuit against the man ended in her defeat. Zhou accused the court of failing to ensure procedural justice as she expressed her disappointment outside the courthouse. "I've exhausted all my efforts," said Zhou in tears.
But not only MeToo survivors in China face backlash after they speak out. Sexual assault victims in the democratic country of Canada have also embarked on an arduous journey to seek legal protection and get their voices heard. Damaging myths that women often lie about sexual victimization has led to many complaints from women in vain. The Globe investigation has found that police dismissed sexual assault complaints as baseless at nearly 20 percent, dramatically higher than other types of crimes, while actual unfounded cases – such as malicious and mistaken reports were only at 2-8 percent. Among all the reported complaints landed on the police desk, only 34 percent led to a charge, with some complainants themselves facing public mischief charges after making the allegations.
And fewer than half of the cases that reached the trial in Canada ended with a conviction, the lowest conviction rate of any crimes. Under the flawed justice system, the odds seem to be stacked against the sexual assault victims, putting women who courageously came forward through the most painful experience in court. The high profile Jian Ghomeshi trial dismissed the violent sexual assault allegations against the powerful celebrity after the court shattered the credibility of three women complainants. The court needs to avoid the “dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful,” said the judge. The trial outcome has left many profoundly disappointed.
Discounting the credibility of sexual assault allegations are systemic social and cultural practices across the globe. From Peng Shuai in China to MeToo survivors in Canada, sexual assault victims struggle to get justice as the systems fail to hold the perpetrators accountable.