Hong Kong split by drive to report sex abuse

While the '#metoo' campaign has taken off around the world, not all Hong Kong people support women speaking out
Hong Kong split by drive to report sex abuse

Hong Kong hurdling champion Vera Lui Lai-yiu, 23, revealed on her Facebook page recently that she was sexually abused by a coach when she was 13 years old. (Photo supplied)

As the "#me too" campaign sweeps the globe, Hong Kong celebrities who have joined in to disclose their sexual abuse stories have been both criticized and praised.  

Recently, Hong Kong hurdling champion Vera Lui Lai-yiu, in response to the campaign, told on her Facebook page of being sexually abused by a coach when she was a teenager. She said she made the revelation on her 23rd birthday and had turned from "a victim to a survivor."

The incident provoked wide-ranging responses, including from community leaders and government officials and politicians.

The coach mentioned by Lui was fired. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, a devout Christian, praised Lui for her courage and claimed to have instructed the Commissioner of Police to follow up the case. Celebrities and district councilors also urged other women to disclose their stories.

However, Lui's courage in coming forward did not meet with the approval of all Hong Kongers.

Netizens questioned why Lui was making a public announcement about a criminal offense without first reporting the incident to police, which they argued amounted to "unjustified sentencing" of the coach.

Kit, a famous Hong Kong columnist, wrote "Thanks to Facebook's new generation, just posting a selfie unilaterally is able to create lots of 'Harvey Weinsteins' or 'Kevin Spaceys.'" His comment won much praise online.

Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, a Wan Chai District councilor, also responded to the "#me too" campaign. She told of her recent experience of being harassed while buying takeaway food after a man "deliberately bumped into her." An arrest was later made and Yeung told the media she will pursue charges.

But her honesty was met with ridicule by many netizens. One replied if you "meet Yeung, turn around," otherwise you will be accused of indecent assault.

Yeung told reporters indecent assaults were common in Hong Kong, however few victims were willing to speak out, "because the victim is uncomfortable about still being criticized by the community."

She said while the "#me too" campaign had gained support in other countries it had not gained many positive responses in Hong Kong.

Linda Wong Sau Yung, executive director of Rain Lily, Hong Kong's first one-stop rape crisis center for female victims of sexual violence, told ucanews.com that Hong Kong, better than Taiwan and Macau, first responded to the campaign.

Still, she said, it was difficult for victims to speak out.

"Hong Kong is developed but it is a Chinese community, so it is still taboo to talk about sexual topics."

She added that due to a "patriarchal supremacy" women were often blamed for "deserving" sexual assaults.

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"Such a culture leaves women with less courage to disclose or report," Wong said.

She encouraged more victims to stand up and break the cultural taboos and for society to support them. "Since the '#me too' campaign was launched, I have heard that many guys have begun to feel afraid. In the past, they may have verbally violated or felt up ladies, thinking there will be no consequences but there are now," she said.

Rosanna Ho Yim Fan, project leader of Caritas' Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma program, told ucanews.com that the "#me too" campaign gave a channel for victims to speak out. But she advised them to tread carefully.

"It is better to consult a counselor or a social worker before making a decision to disclose such a very private story on a social media platform, and be prepared to face negative criticism in order to avoid a second trauma as we cannot control comments left on internet."


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