“I wanted to let my friends know, through this post, that #MeToo was very close to them,” she said.Advocates for women’s rights say that Ms. Zhou’s example has made it easier for other women to share their stories of abuse.
While China’s #MeToo movement is small, complaints by women over the past year against college professors, tech executives, religious leaders and nonprofit executives, among others, have drawn wide attention.“More young people are willing to stand up and speak,” said Huang Yizhi, a lawyer in Beijing who specializes in gender discrimination cases.
“They are no longer afraid.”Ms. Zhou says she considers herself lucky, not courageous, because her case earned wide attention in the news media.
Many women in China struggle to be heard, she said, noting that some victims wait in line for days at police stations, only to be ignored.“The obstacles that other women experience is beyond my imagination,” she said. “It’s almost impossible for their cases to be resolved.”On her Weibo page, she offers a mix of inspirational slogans (“the light will come”) and reflections on her own struggles.
In one recent post, she recounted how she disliked a photo taken by a journalist because it made her look like a powerless victim.“I am in a cage, lacking courage, insignificant, flinching and escaping, just like this photo,” she wrote. “I hope that girls can get more protection and that when they face the camera, they can laugh openly.”
On a smoggy October day, Ms. Zhou strode into a courthouse in northwest Beijing for her first appearance in Mr. Zhu’s lawsuit. During the proceedings, she was asked to provide evidence of the assault and to recount what had happened.