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Businessman Tied to China Alibaba Rape Case Gets 18 Months

When a younger feminine worker at Alibaba, considered one of 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 season, it appeared like a turning level for the nation’s fledgling #MeToo motion.

Months later, it had not performed out that method.

In September, prosecutors determined not to cost the girl’s boss as a result of they mentioned his conduct didn’t represent against the law. In November, Alibaba fired the girl, who has been recognized by the police and her legal professionals solely by her surname, Zhou. The firm claimed Ms. Zhou had broken its popularity by spreading falsehoods.

But now, within the newest growth, a Chinese court docket on Wednesday discovered Zhang Guo – the corporate consumer whom Ms. Zhou accused of sexually assaulting her alongside together with her boss – responsible of “forcible indecency.” It ordered Mr. Zhang to serve 18 months in jail, changing into one of many few high-profile situations of males in China being held accountable after accusations of sexual assault.

The People’s Court of Huaiyin District in jap China wrote in its ruling that, in accordance to its findings, Mr. Zhang took benefit of Ms. Zhou’s intoxication and that he molested her close to the restaurant’s entrance desk and in a personal eating room. It additionally discovered that Mr. Zhang went to her lodge room the following day and was assaulted once more.

Alibaba fired Ms. Zhou’s former boss, recognized in information reviews 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 choice in opposition to Mr. Zhang. Feng Yanqiang, Mr. Zhang’s lawyer mentioned the decision was flawed and known 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 the episode had precipitated her psychological and bodily well being to deteriorate, and that she apprehensive the court docket’s choice would discourage different ladies from coming ahead in China.

“I am unable to simply encourage extra ladies to be robust and courageous, as a result of I understand how painful and tough this course of is,” she mentioned. But as an alternative of “dying” with out solutions, she added, “one ought to choose to combat laborious and get justice.”

The incident attracted nationwide consideration final yr when Ms. Zhou stood up and screamed concerning the sexual assault in considered one of Alibaba’s cafeterias. A video posted on-line confirmed her loudly accusing her bosses and human assets of ignoring her complaints. As the video unfold on social media, it precipitated an uproar amongst viewers indignant with the numerous biases and energy imbalances ladies in China face.

The #MeToo motion has struggled to acquire momentum within the nation. Women who accuse males of sexual harassment or making a poisonous office are regularly met with vitriol on-line. Institutions promote messages of feminine empowerment, however many ladies say accusations of misconduct by colleagues or superiors are sometimes ignored.

The court docket on Wednesday mentioned the prosecution offered “dependable and ample proof” in constructing the case in opposition to Mr. Zhang. It mentioned Mr. Zhang didn’t confess nor had he requested for forgiveness. Chinese information media mentioned that neither Ms. Mr. Zhou and Mr. Wang, who had been each listed as witnesses, appeared in court docket through the two-day trial in early June.

Claire Fu(*18*) contributed analysis.

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