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“Go and Wear Your Miniskirts!” – Shenzhen Police Fights Sexual Harassment on Public Transport, Protects Freedom of Dress

“Go and wear your beautiful miniskirts! Perverts, we will catch you!”, Shenzhen police states.

Manya Koetse

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A strong statement by Shenzhen police that women should not be afraid to wear miniskirts in public transport has gone viral on Chinese social media. The online campaign “Wear your skirts, we’ll catch the perverts” breaks with old ideas that place the burden of public safety and sexual assault on women.

Over the past two weeks, the hashtag “Still Go and Wear Your Miniskirt” (#小裙子 你尽管去穿#) has received almost 20 million views on Sina Weibo.

The phrase became popular on Chinese social media after a published statement from the Shenzhen Public Safety Office in early August on its public WeChat account, in which they made clear: “Go and wear your beautiful miniskirts! Perverts, we will catch you!” (“世上好看的小裙子,你尽管去穿!地铁上的色狼,我们来抓!”)

Since late June of this year, Shenzhen’s local public security office has initiated a crackdown on sexual harassment in public transport. In a period of 4-5 weeks, they have succeeded in arresting 29 suspects for indecent behavior, of which 20 were arrested on the spot by plainclothes officers surveilling the subway.

Sexual harassment on China’s subways is a long-standing problem, especially during the rush hours when people are squeezed together on the trains.

Men secretly filming under women’s skirts has also become a specific problem since the rising popularity of smartphones in China. Every year before summer, social media users warn each other to be extra vigilant when wearing skirts in public transport or on escalators, because offenders find creative ways to get some under-skirt footage.

These problems even led to the introduction of China’s first women-only subway cars in 2017. Many social media commenters at the time, however, did not see the segregation of male and female passengers as a solution to the problem.

An online poll at the time showed that 59.7% of respondents opposed the measure, saying it opposed gender equality and even calling it a form of sex-based discrimination.

The crackdown on sex offenders on China’s subways appears to receive more support on Chinese social media.

 

“[This is] a direct rebuttal of the traditional idea that the burden should be placed on women to protect themselves.”

 

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua called the Shenzhen police statement a “direct rebuttal of the traditional idea that the burden should be placed on women to protect themselves.”

Author Linzi Lu (林子璐) writes: “In the past, after sexual misconduct, indecent behavior or assault took place, some safe travel reminders to the public would warn women not to travel alone at night or not to wear revealing clothing,” describing how these reminders, although supposedly well-intended, place the responsibility on women to take care of their own security, instead of focusing on the offenders who put their safety at risk.

Lu further adds that the efforts of the Shenzhen public security team are a valuable learning example for others, breaking with old ideas about victim blaming (受害者有罪论).

In 2016, a brutal assault on a woman at a Beijing hotel sent shock waves through the country as the attack was captured on security cameras and showed that bystanders did not intervene to help the victim. In response, state media spread infosheets on Weibo telling women not to go out “alone in dark streets” and not to open the door for strangers.

In Europe, a similar response from authorities triggered controversy when the mayor of Cologne warned women to “keep men at arm’s length” to prevent sexual assault, after scores of women were sexually abused and mugged in the city during new year celebrations.

“Isn’t it the job of the police to make sure we [women] can safely go out?” one netizen responded at the time.

 

“I’m rooting for Shenzhen police, even if I don’t wear miniskirts myself!”

 

By now, the Shenzhen “miniskirt campaign” has received the praise of thousands of netizens on Weibo. One person (@潇洒帅气刘栋琛) wrote: “The distorted idea that women attract being assaulted because of what they wear should not become an established idea, nor should it be propagated. Let’s go by the law and catch the perverts, building on a safe and harmonious society.”

“I’m rooting for Shenzhen police, even if I don’t wear miniskirts myself!”, another commenter wrote.

“I am almost moved to tears by this [Shenzhen police] statement,” another female Weibo user said, receiving over 50,000 likes.

Other female social media users wrote: “Through this campaign, all women can feel safer. It’s not us who make the bad people bad, it’s in the nature of those people.”

A male commenter said: “Both men and women should be able to wear whatever style of clothes they want to wear. It’s a shameful rhetoric to say that someone, who is fully innocent, can ‘provoke’ those who are obscene.”

On Twitter, the well-known Shenzhen tech maker Naomi Wu (@realsexycyborg) showed some pride in the recent measures by local authorities, writing: “We’re a bit different than other cities ?‍♀️?” (see embedded tweet below).

This summer, Shenzhen is not the only city cracking down on sex offenders on public transport. Among other cities, Beijing also has an active team of plainclothes police officers who patrol the subway network each day to prevent the sexual assault or harassment of women.

Through the official Shenzhen police Weibo account (@深圳公安), the Shenzhen team stated that they were happy about the attention their crackdown campaign has received online: “We’ve hit the top-trending search lists,” they wrote: “It’s a bit overwhelming. But we will keep on doing what we do!”

By Manya Koetse


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©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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    Lorenzo Dikian

    August 16, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    It’s really good decision!

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China and Covid19

Announced Changes in Nucleic Acid Testing and Further Easing of Covid Measures Across China

Bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate.

Manya Koetse

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On Monday, directly after that noteworthy unrest-filled weekend, the hashtag “Multiple Locations Announce Nucleic Acid Testing Changes” (#多地核酸检测通知发生变化#) went trending on Chinese social media, receiving over 660 million clicks by Monday evening.

Immediately following demonstrations in Beijing and a second night of protests in Shanghai and elsewhere, various Chinese media reported how different areas across the country are introducing changes to their current Covid19 testing measures.

On Wednesday, November 30, China’s vice-premier Sun Chunlan made remarks at a meeting on epidemic prevention, underlining the importance of “constantly optimizing” China’s Covid-19 response and talking about a “new stage and mission” – without ever mentioning “zero Covid.”

This is what we know about easing Covid measures thus far:

▶ Strict lockdowns have been lifted in Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Chongqing.

▶ On November 28, Guangzhou announced that people who do not actively participate in social life will no longer need to participate in continuous nucleic acid screening. This includes elderly people who stay indoors for long periods of time, students who take online classes, and those who work from home. The change will apply to residents in seven districts, including Haizhu, Panyu, Tianhe, and Baiyun (#广州7区无社会面活动者可不参加全员核酸#).

▶ Guangzhou, according to Reuters, also scrapped a rule that only people with a negative COVID test can buy fever medication over the counter.

Harbin will follow the example of Guangzhou, and will also allow people who are mostly based at home to skip nucleic acid test screenings.

▶ Same goes for Shenyang, and Taiyuan.

▶ In Chongqing, various districts have done widespread Covid testing campaigns, but the local authorities announced that those communities that have not had a positive Covid case over the past five days do not need to participate in nucleic acid screening anymore. This means an end to district-wide testing.

▶ On November 30, Beijing also announced that it will start exempting some people from frequent Covid testing, including those elderly residents who are bound to home and other people who do not go out and have social interactions. This also includes younger students who are following classes online.

▶ Starting from December 5, bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate (announced on December 2nd).

▶ Although not officially announced, there have been various social media posts and reports about Covid-positive people in Beijing being allowed to quarantine at home if they meet conditions.

Chengdu Metro announced on December 2nd that it will no longer check passengers’ nucleic acid test reports. Passengers still need to scan their travel code and those with a green code can enter. Other public places will reportedly also start to accept the ‘green code’ only without a time limit on nucleic acid testing.

Tianjin metro announced that the 72-hour nucleic acid certificate check will be also be canceled for passengers on the Tianjin metro lines. As in other places, people will still need to wear proper face masks and undergo temperature checks.

▶ In Hangzhou, except for at special places such as nursing homes, orphanages, primary and secondary schools, people’s nucleic acid tests will no longer be checked in public transportation and other public places. They will also stop checking people’s Venue Codes (场所码).

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China and Covid19

The ‘Blank White Paper Protest’ in Beijing and Online Discussions on “Outside Forces”

As people in Beijing, Shanghai, and other places take to the streets holding up white papers, some have dubbed this the “A4 Revolution.”

Manya Koetse

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A majority of social media commenters support those who have recently taken to the streets, using blank sheets as a sign of protest against censorship and stringent Covid measures. But there are also online voices warning Chinese young people not to be influenced by ‘external forces.’

Over the past few days, there have been scenes of unrest and protest movements in various places across China.

While there were protests in Shanghai for the second night in a row, Beijing also saw crowds gathering around the Liangmahe area in the city’s Chaoyang District on Sunday night.

Some videos showed crowds softly singing the song “Farewell” (送别) in commemoration of those who lost their lives during the deadly inferno in Urumqi.

Later, people protested against stringent Covid measures.

“The crowds at Liangmahe are amazing,” some people on Weibo commented.

Photos and videos coming from the area showed how people were holding up blank sheets of white paper.

Earlier this weekend, students in Nanjing and Xi’an also held up blank paper sheets in protest of censorship and as the only ‘safe’ way to say what could otherwise not be said. This form of protest also popped up during the Hong Kong protests, as also described in the recent book by Louisa Lim (Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong).

The recurring use of blank paper sheets led to some dubbing the protests an “A4 Revolution.”

“When can we have freedom of speech? Maybe it can start at Beijng’s Liangmahe,” one person on Weibo wrote on Sunday night.

Another Beijing-based netizen wrote: “Before going to sleep I saw what was happening in Liangmahe on my WeChat Moments and then I looked at Weibo and saw that the Xicheng area had added 279 new Covid cases. I started thinking about my own everyday life and the things I am doing. I can’t help but feel a sense of isolation, because I can’t fight and do not dare to raise my voice.”

“I didn’t dare to believe this is happening in 2022. I didn’t dare to believe this is happening in Beijing. I do not dare to believe that again it will all have been useless tomorrow morning,” one Weibo user commented.

During the night, various people at the scene shouted out things such as “we want to go out and work,” and other hopes they have. One person yelled: “I want to go out and see a movie!”

“I want to go and see a movie.”

The phrase “I wanna go watch a movie” (“我要看电影”) was also picked up on social media, with some people commenting : “I am not interested in political regimes, I just want to be able to freely see a movie.” “I want to see a movie! I want to sit in a cinema and watch a movie! I want to watch a movie that is uncensored!”

Despite social media users showing a lot of support for students and locals standing up and making their voices heard, not everyone was supportive of this gathering in Beijing. Some suggested that since Liangmahe is near Beijing’s foreign embassy district, there must be some evil “foreign forces” meddling and creating unrest.

Others expressed that people were starting to demand too many different things instead of solely focusing on China’s zero Covid policies, losing the momentum of the original intention of the protest.

Political commentator Hu Xijin (胡锡进) also posted about the recent unrest on his Weibo account on Sunday night:

The people have the right to express their opinions, and you may have good and honest aspirations and have the intention to express legitimate demands. But I want to remind you that many things have their own rules, and when everyone participates in the movement, its direction might become very difficult for ordinary participants to continue to control, and it can easily to be used or even hijacked by separate forces, which may eventually turn into a flood that destroys all of our lives.”

Hu also called on people to keep striving to solve existing problems, but to stay clear-headed, suggesting that it is important for the people and the government to maintain unity in this challenging time.

The term “outside forces” or “external forces” (外部势力) increasingly popped up in social media discussions on late Sunday night.

“I worry a lot of meddling by external forces. Let’s be vigilant of a color revolution. I just hope things will get better,” one netizen from Hubei wrote.

“Young people should not be incited by a few phrases and blindly follow. Everyone will approve of people rationally defending their rights, but stay far away from color revolutions.”

The idea that foreign forces meddle in Chinese affairs for their own agenda has come up various times over the past years, during the Hong Kong protests but also during small-scale protests, such as a local student protest in Chengdu in 2021.

The term “color revolution” is recurring in these kind of discussions, with some netizens suggesting that foreign forces, such as the CIA, are trying to get local people to cause unrest through riots or demonstrations to undermine the stability of the government.

“It’s not always external forces, it can also just be opposition,” one person on Weibo replied: “In every country you’ll have different opinions.”

“What outside forces?” another commenter said: “I’m not an external force! I am just completely fed up with the Covid measures!”

Read more about the “11.24” unrest in China here.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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