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.
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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs