Police in China have released a former Alibaba executive accused of rape by a colleague after prosecutors refused to charge him. the country.
In a statement released late Monday, authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan said the manager’s behavior — referred to by his surname Wang — did not constitute a crime and his arrest had not been approved. He was released after 15 days in custody.
Last month, a female Alibaba employee said that Mr. Wang assaulted and raped her during a business trip in July, after what she called a “drunken evening” entertaining colleagues. When the woman, whose last name is Zhou, reported the matter to Alibaba, she said she was not getting a redress.
Finally, Ms. Zhou posted an essay about the alleged attack on the Internet. It was widely shared on Chinese social media and became the latest in a string of #MeToo episodes in a country where the movement is struggling to gain traction.
The account caused a stir within Alibaba, a company that has long publicly celebrated the importance of its female workforce, with employees saying it was symptomatic of deeper problems, including rampant sexism.
In response to the memo, Alibaba’s top management fired Mr. Wang and said in a memo to employees that the company would expedite the creation of an anti-sexual harassment policy and a dedicated channel for employees to report misconduct. Two senior managers resigned for not responding adequately to the woman’s report.
“Alibaba Group has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct and ensuring a safe workplace for all our employees is Alibaba’s top priority,” a company spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.
Authorities had investigated Mr. Wang in connection with the crime of “forced indecency,” which can include sexual assault but does not stop rape. When the prosecutor ruled that Mr. Wang did not constitute a crime, he was released after an administrative penalty for the crime of immorality.
Separate allegations of “forced indecency” persist against another man who attended dinner as an Alibaba customer and was accused of sexual assault by Ms. Zhou.
Although plaintiffs can file civil cases, the Chinese legal system generally offers them few options when it comes to sexual assault and harassment at work. From 2010 to 2017, there were about as many civil lawsuits from accused of wrongdoing, alleged defamation, as from prosecutors.
Daily Business Brief
The prosecutors’ decision sparked mixed reactions online. “This man can start training: how to implement a non-criminal enforced indecency,” one user wrote sarcastically in a widely shared response.
A supporter of Mr. Wang argued back, “It is right to act in accordance with the law, please do not judge the matter by public opinion.”
Mr. Wang’s wife said on her verified account on social media platform Weibo that he was released on Tuesday morning. She thanked the courts for their “fair handling of the case” and the “majority of avid internet users for their understanding, encouragement and support.”
While the #MeToo movement has had some minor victories since it first emerged in China in 2018, women say the opportunities are still great in a country that strictly limits dissent and activism, and where the top of political leaders is almost exclusively male. Women say it’s nearly impossible to file police complaints because they don’t have video evidence, which authorities often need.
The Alibaba episode has sparked an increasingly loud campaign against abuse and sexism in China. This summer, police arrested popular Canadian Chinese singer Kris Wu on suspicion of rape after an 18-year-old university student in Beijing accused him of pressuring young women to have sex. Mr Wu, who has been the most prominent figure to confront #MeToo allegations, has denied the allegations.
The episode at Alibaba has also brought more attention to issues of equality in China’s male-dominated tech industry, which many female workers say has long objectified women and blamed victims. Three years ago, when a college student at the University of Minnesota claimed that billionaire founder of JD.com, Richard Liu, raped her after a dinner full of alcohol, many in the tech industry sided with her and called her a gold digger. other misogynistic insults. mr. Liu denied her allegation and Minnesota police dropped the investigation.
Within Alibaba, large numbers of employees have rallied around the allegations to push back against what they believe to be a sexist workplace culture. In a letter to management last month signed by more than 6,000 Alibaba employees, employees urged the company to ban sexual comments and games during orientation events.
Li You research contributed.