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Video showing brutal beating of women reopens the debate on gender violence in China

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A video shared online shows several women being brutally beaten by a group of men. The scene took place on June 10 at a restaurant in Tangshan, northeast China’s Hebei province. The shocking attack, captured on surveillance footage, has revived the debate about violence against women in China.

Surveillance cameras – one inside and one outside the restaurant – captured the scene. Due to the shocking nature of the video, the FRANCE 24 Observers has decided to only publish screenshots.

Screenshot of the video.  The woman in white sitting with her friends tries to push the man in the green jacket away.
Screenshot of the video. The woman in white sitting with her friends tries to push the man in the green jacket away. observers

In the video, a man in a green coat hits a woman – dressed in white and eating with two of her friends – on the back. She pushes him away from her twice before he punches her in the face.

Then the violence escalates. The woman in white and her boyfriend try to defend themselves by throwing bottles at him. Several men run towards them and start beating the two women. They hit one with a chair and drag the other out of the restaurant by her hair, where she is also beaten.

The scene continued outside the restaurant.  One woman helps the other who was thrown to the ground.  A man, dressed in a white shirt, approaches her and beats her again.
The scene continued outside the restaurant. One woman helps the other who was thrown to the ground. A man, dressed in a white shirt, approaches her and beats her again. observers

A second security camera records the rest of the incident. The men continue to attack the woman, hitting and kicking her. Some other women try to intervene, but are also attacked by the men. One of these women is thrown to the stairs in front of the restaurant.

Nine men involved in the attack were arrested on June 13, according to the Anglophone Chinese media outlet Global Time, which added that two of the victims were in hospital in stable condition.

Chinese media say the incident was linked to gangs in Tangshan. However, people on Chinese social networks have used the violence to reopen the debate on violence against women in China.

On Twitter’s Chinese equivalent, Weibo, hashtags related to the attack received hundreds of millions of views the following weekend.

For many, the video is a reminder that gender-based violence is still prevalent in China. “The fundamental problem with this incident is the social status of Chinese women,” said a Weibo user in a comment that garnered nearly 150,000 likes.

Online solidarity actions

Many women on Weibo identified with the victims and shared their support online.

The post translated below has amassed 146,000 likes.
The post translated below has amassed 146,000 likes. © Weibo

They were just friends who had met after work and were violently beaten for refusing to engage in a conversation. If we don’t say anything today, we know very well who will be next.

Comments posted in response to the video of the attack, accompanied by the hashtag "Tangshan Women's Federation responds to the attack at a barbecue restaurant"†  Translations of the first and second commentary are below.
Comments posted in response to the video of the attack, accompanied by the hashtag “Tangshan Women’s Federation responds to the attack at a barbecue restaurant”. Translations of the first and second commentary are below. © Weibo

I like to eat barbecue in restaurants, so that may just be me. I like to party with my friends so it can be me. If I’m being harassed and resisting, it could be me. I can’t defend myself, so it could be me!

The fundamental problem with this incident is the social status of Chinese women

Some also pointed to the apathy of some of those present at the time of the attack. “No man stands up to help the girls,” reads one comment. “Why isn’t anyone nearby calling the police?” asks another.

On Weibo, some users tried to find excuses for the attackers, such as the fact that they were drunk or that the women who were attacked returned the punches. But many women have spoken out against these arguments.

This post has amassed nearly 60,000 likes.  Translation below.
This post has amassed nearly 60,000 likes. Translation below. © Weibo

I spent the night on Weibo and I have not seen a single man express a sense of shame […]† Some quickly distanced themselves and advised women not to respond if attacked […]†

I now understand why dozens of men in the restaurant could watch as several girls were violently beaten. What they thought was the same as what? [some] said men on the Internet.

Was this little barbecue restaurant a gathering of a dozen of the worst and most indifferent men in the land? No, they are just the embodiment of a male ideology, the patriarchy […]†

Some said the attack revealed a deeper social problem, like this commentator

Why girls learn to protect themselves? This society should teach boys to respect women.

In the days following the incident, calls for respect for women multiplied on Weibo. But at the same time, several users have appealed to others to avoid a gender-based reading of the event, arguing that it “could have happened to men or women” and asking people to refrain from starting a “gender war.” “. Local authorities had a similar reaction

China’s Complicated Past Violence Against Women

Gender-based violence is regularly in the news in China. In January, an incident in which a woman was chained up by her husband sparked outrage on social media, prompting Prime Minister Li Keqiang pledge to end trafficking in women and children in the country.

Yet the debate about violence against women has to do with widespread censorship. Certain hashtags related to feminism are censored on Chinese social media. And some women who have accused influential men of sexual assault or harassment have been silenced.

In the debate that followed the women’s attack at the barbecue restaurant, Weibo said they had suspended nearly 1,000 accounts that had tried to fuel friction between men and women. according to the New York Times

>> Read more about The Observers: Chinese members of the #MeToo movement fight censorship to show support for tennis star Peng Shuai

Last February, after tennis player Peng Shuai accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of rape, statements of support for China’s #MeToo movement were wiped from social networks. Shuai even disappeared from public life after the controversy, before reappearing and denying ever making such accusations.

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