China charges 28 in relation to June restaurant attack on women

Published on Aug 29, 2022 05:58 PM IST

The assault and the public outcry renewed a conversation about misogyny and mistreatment of women in China

A man assaults a woman at a restaurant in the northeastern city of Tangshan, China, on June 10, 2022, in this screen grab taken from surveillance footage. (REUTERS/FILE)
A man assaults a woman at a restaurant in the northeastern city of Tangshan, China, on June 10, 2022, in this screen grab taken from surveillance footage. (REUTERS/FILE)

BEIJING: China on Monday charged dozens of people, including police officers, in relation to an assault on a group of women at a restaurant in June, which had sparked online outrage and discussions on gender-based violence in the country.

“The investigation has gone beyond the actual attack to encompass broader allegations of criminal activity and police corruption in the area,” the Associated Press reported.

In June, graphic footage of a group of men attacking four women after one of them rejected advances of a man in the group at a barbecue restaurant in Tangshan, east of the capital Beijing, drew shock outrage after it was shared widely online. The men dragged were captured hitting and kicking the woman and her friends.

On Monday, the People’s Procuratorate of Hebei province, where Tangshan is located, said that 28 people had been prosecuted in the case.

The charged include the seven men suspected of being directly involved in the assault. Police identified the prime suspect in the attack as “Chen”, saying he “recklessly used violence to commit evil,” according to state broadcaster CCTV.

“The attackers were suspected to be part of a gang, and local media reported at the time of the attack that the police response had been slow, prompting concerns that corruption was involved. The 15, including the director of Tangshan’s public security bureau and officers from several police stations, are suspected of abuse of power, bribery and other job-related crimes. Eight of them have been detained during the investigation,” an AP report said.

In the aftermath of the incident, Chinese netizens had raised questions about the sheer brazenness of the incident, given that the suspects knew they were in a public place – where passers-by were making videos of the incident -- and under the scrutiny of CCTV cameras.

The judicial authorities said Chen and three other men first harassed a woman surnamed Wang.

“Chen beat up her after the woman resisted. Later, six (other) people used chairs, beer bottles and punches to beat up Wang and three of her friends,” the state-run tabloid, Global Times said in a report.

Two of the women who were attacked were hospitalized for at least 11 days, while the others had minor injuries.

State-run news outlet, The Paper, had said the incident reflected a toxic “patriarchal system” in China.

“However, under the protection of the patriarchal cultural system, it is difficult for the perpetrator to repent of gender-based violence, and it may even give the perpetrator a ‘masculine’ sense of self-satisfaction,” it said in an opinion piece in June.

(With inputs from Associated Press)

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    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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