BEIJING: The "MeToo" movement in China is facing some unique difficulties as other than being ignored or accused of lying, they are also urged to keep silent for fear of helping the government crackdown on activists and dissidents.
"Women working in human rights (or) civil society in China are under pressured not to expose sexual abuses by male leaders so as not to jeopardize 'the cause'," journalist Yaqiu Wang has tweeted.
"Women's rights are constantly undermined, even belittled, in the presence of the 'higher cause' of 'democracy' and 'freedom'," CNN quoted Yaqiu as saying. This is beside the fact they are under huge societal pressure to not risk maligning their own reputations.
Xiong Jing, director of the Beijing-based Women's Media Monitor Network, told CNN that many men in the activist sphere have been able to take advantage of their reputation as do-gooders.
However, there are signs of a shift underway with a new wave of #MiTu reckoning in China.
This is combined with a new freedom to discuss the matter online, as the previously pervasive censorship of the issue has given way somewhat, leading the conversation around sexual harassment and assault to explode, the CNN said.
"They are famous, they are powerful, and they make great contributions (to society), that's exactly what makes them think they have the power to sexually harass women," Xiong said.
In July, a spreadsheet of accusations against prominent men within NGO, activist and media circles was shared widely by Chinese women online in a manner similar to the US "media men" list. CNN has reviewed a copy of the list and is examining the unverified claims within.
The #MiTu activism first took hold on the Peking University campus, when student Yue Xin received widespread attention after administrators attempted to shut down a petition by her and other students over an alleged rape case, sparking significant outrage.
But women have not stopped speaking out against predatory professors and students since Xiong told CNN.