News / Asia

Chinese Anti-School Rape Activist Harassed by Mob

Beijing-based video and photojournalist Du Bin, right, poses for photos with Chinese activist Ye Haiyan outside the venue in Hong Kong where Du Bin first publicly screened his documentary, May 1, 2013. Beijing-based video and photojournalist Du Bin, right, poses for photos with Chinese activist Ye Haiyan outside the venue in Hong Kong where Du Bin first publicly screened his documentary, May 1, 2013.
x
Beijing-based video and photojournalist Du Bin, right, poses for photos with Chinese activist Ye Haiyan outside the venue in Hong Kong where Du Bin first publicly screened his documentary, May 1, 2013.
Beijing-based video and photojournalist Du Bin, right, poses for photos with Chinese activist Ye Haiyan outside the venue in Hong Kong where Du Bin first publicly screened his documentary, May 1, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Local authorities in China are taking extreme measures to silence a blogger and activist, after she started a campaign online to raise awareness about the rape of several schoolchildren, and the ineffectiveness of Chinese laws against such violence.

Ye Haiyan - a prominent feminist based in the southern province of Guangxi - recently traveled to Wanning, a city in the southern island of Hainan, where a school principal and a local government official were accused of raping six schoolgirls.

The case sparked national outrage because of the cruel nature of the crime, and  reports of inefficiencies and cover-ups by authorities during the initial investigation.

To highlight the incident, Ye took to Weibo - China's Twitter-like service. She posted pictures of herself in front of the school holding a cardboard sign saying: “School principal, take a room with me instead, leave the children alone."

The post went viral, with many Internet users and well-known figures in China lending their faces to the cause, and posting similar pictures.

Then Ye’s troubles began.  Police visited her home.  After an altercation, Ye was arrested for assaulting the police. She was detained for 13 days.  After her release, she returned home and found an angry mob waiting for her.  Ye posted pictures online showing hateful banners hanging above the street in front of her home.

Ye also posted updates. “This afternoon I went to the police station to make a report,” she wrote in one post, “I requested to apply for protection, but it was not accepted. I will go again tomorrow and make the request again.”

Beijing lawyer Tang Jitian said that local authorities have done nothing to ensure Ye's safety.

“Not only they have not handled the issue well by detaining her in the first place,” he said, “but neither police nor the local government came up with an effective way to help her.  I saw that at the end the mob dispersed, but that is not a guarantee that this won't happen again."

A person answering the phone at the Bobai county police station did not answer questions about Ye Haiyan, and said to check the government's Internet page for information.

Days before Ye was freed from police custody, fellow activist and filmmaker Ai Xiaoming posted topless pictures of herself. On her chest she reproduced Ye Haiyan's plea on behalf of schoolchildren in China.

“Carrying banners on the street is not permitted and it is treated as a crime and as a provocation,” she said, “If I cannot walk the streets and hold banners, at least I can write my protest on my body and put the picture online, which is a public space.”

Ai said that these kinds of campaigns are essential in the fight against sexual violence in schools.

“The head of the families [whose children have been molested] are receiving enormous pressure, and they need the support of the society so that they can unite and denounce these crimes,” said Ai Xiaoming.

One of their challenges is getting accurate, consistent facts.

Chinese media have reported on the different results in the girls' medical examinations. During a first tests the victims' hymens showed damage, but shortly after, the hospital changed its conclusion and said they were intact.

Ai Xiaoming said these discrepancies illustrate another obstacle to justice for the victims.

“To preserve their images, local government officials don't do their duty in persecuting these crime,” Ai said, “On the contrary, they cover up.”

Last month, at least six primary school teachers were detained for allegedly sexually assaulting girls, some as young as eight years old. Responding to this string of rape cases, authorities have pledged to strictly prosecute the offenders.

In Hainan, the school principal and the government employee accused of raping the six school girls are being prosecuted. Rape is punishable with sentences up to the death penalty in China.

Lawyer Tang Jitian said that activism by citizens like Ye Haiyan complements the work of the government and the courts.

“We need to have NGOs and social workers do these attempts to protect human rights,” he said. “But if the government does not tolerate this kind of people [activists], then I think that there is a big problem with the government.”

Ye Haiyan’s problems continue. She has been evicted from her home, and after receiving increasing pressure from local authorities as well as unidentified mobs, she is now looking for a house elsewhere.

Tang Jitian said that ultimately Bobai's authorities will reach their goal: to move an outspoken activist off their turf.

You May Like

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid