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Gut-Wrenching Abuse Stories Trending on Chinese Social Media Under #Trigger Warning# Hashtag

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On Chinese social media site Weibo, victims of child abuse are posting about their tragic experiences.

The movement comes in the wake of a high-profile online revelation that one of the head executives at telecommunications company ZTE, Bao Yuming, had allegedly sexually abused his foster daughter since 2015.

The victim of the reported abuse, who adopted the pseudonym Li Xingxing, was fostered by Bao when she was 14, and according to Guangzhou-based newspaper South Reviews (link in Chinese), he reportedly began abusing her a month later. The paper goes on to say that Bao would make her watch child pornography, undress her before bed, and restrict her from spending time with anyone but himself. Since the reports became public, Bao has been removed from his post at ZTE, as well as posts at Yantai Jierui Oil Services Company and Southwest University of Political Science and Law.

The hashtag #triggerwarning# (notably using English text) has been read over 190 million times to date, after gaining traction on Weibo as of Monday morning. The content of the personal stories being shared is chilling and gut-wrenching, but raises awareness of the prevalence of child abuse in China.

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One of the more widely-shared stories, quoted in part below, is of a woman who was reportedly molested by her cousin in the third grade. She writes:

“At that time I was young, he came to the house to play, and we slept together. […] He thought that I had fallen asleep, he kissed me, put his tongue in my mouth and touched my chest and lower body. I waited for a while after it was over and went to the bathroom. In the bathroom I spat. I’d never taken sex education before, I thought that I was going to get pregnant. I was so scared I ran to my grandmother to tell her I had been kissed and stuck out my tongue and didn’t say anything. After that, my grandmother did nothing, and things just went away.”

Among these disturbing revelations are calls by netizens and media outlets for improved sex education for kids, in order for children to identify and avoid dangerous situations that may lead to abuse.

One widely liked post suggests a sex education manual (shown above), alongside text that translates as, “To protect children from sexual abuse, parents and teachers have a great responsibility. Unfortunately, many parents do not take it seriously, and many teachers do not feel it is their responsibility.”

Bao is only the latest high-profile individual to be accused of abuse in China. On New Year’s Day in 2018, former PhD candidate Luo Xixi came forward to accuse Beihang University supervisor Chen Xiaowu of sexual harassment. This incident helped to ignite the #MeToo movement in China, which spread to the tech sector, media, and non-profit organizations.

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Accusations in the years since have ranged from billionaire CEOs — like JD.com’s Richard Liu — to China’s “highest ranking Buddhist monk”.

This latest incident once again makes it clear that further conversations around sex and consent are needed in China.

Bryan Grogan
    Bryan is RADII's Culture Editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in culture stories with a social bent. He can be found at a music show, usually with pint in hand.