Women in China are increasinly taking to social media to call out the regular sexual harassment they face on public transportation.
In numerous viral videos posted on Chinese social media, women are seen confronting men who have groped them on crowded trains, at times taking advantage of the women while they are dozing off. One of the videos, posted in March on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, was viewed more than 90,000 times; another on Douyin, which is similar to Tik Tok, has been shared tens of thousands of times since May 2018. Many used the hashtag "#咸猪手#," or pig hands, to describe the vulgar behavior they encountered.
One online user said in a November 2018 post on Weibo that a man sitting next to her in the subway had placed his hand on her thigh several times and then pressed up against her as he pretended to fall asleep.
One Weibo user posted in November 2018 about a man who had repeatedly touched her thigh in the subway.
Others demanded stronger support from local police, whom they say have been reluctant to intervene in incidents of sexual harassment. In a viral video posted in January, one woman confronts her alleged harasser as what appears to be members of the subway's security look on helplessly.
In this video posted in January, a woman films her alleged harasser as she denounces his "shameless" behavior. In her post, she urged her fellow female passengers to report incidents to the police immediately.
In an attempt to combat the rampant sexual harassment on public transportation, some cities, including Shenzhen, have set up special security teams to catch offenders.
"Most women who are harassed on public transportation don’t speak out”
Li TingTing, an activist known as Li Maizi who was imprisoned with four others for 37 days in 2015 for planning protests against sexual harassment on public transportation, said the wave of stories pouring out on social media indicated that women in China were finally willing to talk openly about the issue.
Most of the women who are harassed on public transportation don’t speak out in the moment. But now they're starting to share these stories and coming together on social media to support one another.
The viral posts are the latest indication that the #MeToo movement is gaining ground in China, Li added.
Despite censorship in China, the #Metoo campaign is working because so many people are affected by sexual harassment. In 2015, people didn’t understand why we had been arrested when equality between men and women is guaranteed in the constitution. We got a lot of support from within China and abroad. That’s when I realized that there was a global sisterhood and that, together, we could fight against sexual harassment.
This story was written by by Alice Hérait (@AliceHerait).