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Beyond the bubble: Women across Asia voice their stories of sexual assault

As #MeToo continues to grow in the US, it has begun to encourage conversations in several different countries.  |  Photo Illustration by Thecla Li/THE CHIMES

 

While #MeToo often brings up images of Hollywood, the movement has begun to reach much farther, including into countries where women may risk their lives to demand greater protections.

Many women in China have begun to stand up in solidarity, despite opposition from the ruling Communist Party. The government has responded by censoring news sources and monitoring the internet for phrases having to do with anti-sexual harassment and a #MeTooChina, warning the participants they could be labeled as traitors. More and more women have shared their personal stories directly online, however, causing unrest not only within the government, but also among a handful of accused university officials who may lose their jobs.

“We’re not brave enough to stand out as one individual. But together, we can be strong,” said Sophia Huang Xuequin, a journalist in southern China, to the New York Times.

This trend has continued in Japan as well, where rape and sexual assault are often depicted in pornogaraphic materials used for sex education. While the crime rates appear low on paper compared to the United States, Japanese citizens are reportedly less likely to report an assault, due to a lack of education on topics like date rape, consent and sexual violence.

Last month in Pakistan, women fought to unban the movie “Verna,” which depicts the story of a teacher who faces sexual assault, and later takes the matter into her own hands after receiving no help from the authorities. Originally banned for “edgy content,” Pakistani women made a public outcry fueled by social media to get the ban lifted.

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