Beijing feminists launched a new anti-harassment campaign on 12 Beijing subway trains earlier this month. Placed in the overhead handles of the trains are posters that call for viewers to "not act as the silent lamb" and "not be the indifferent spectator" when faced with harassment.
Image via @死灵fei/Weibo
Sponsored by the Beijing Women’s Federation, this new initiative brought the issue of sexual harassment on Chinese public transit back into the spotlight, coming one year after authorities in Guangzhou prevented a feminist activist group to display similar posters in one the city's metro lines.
In a 2015 survey conducted by China Youth Daily, over 50 percent of the 1,900 participants — both women and men — reported experiencing sexual harassment on public transportation. A 2017 follow-up study revealed that 53.5 percent of women either experienced sexual harassment while riding the metro or knew at least one other woman who had.
Many Chinese cities have devised new ways to make their subway system safer for passengers. As part of a wider crackdown on harassment on public transportation, in June 2016 Beijing assembled an anti-sexual harassment task force dubbed “Wolf Hunt Squad” to target and detain offenders. Shenzhen and Guangzhou have instead introduced female-only and ‘female-priority’ cars, although their effectiveness has been called into question. In fact, men are still allowed to enter the cars and cases of harassment on those metro lines have kept being reported, most notably one perpetrated by a male passenger on a ‘female-priority’ train in Shenzhen.
The campaign is gaining popularity alongside a national movement that is promoting women to come forward with their experiences and to pressure authorities into more effectively combatting sexual harassment.
[Cover image via Baidu Baike]