China court drops sexual assault case against former Alibaba manager as ‘forcible indecency’ not a crime

·2-min read
A Alibaba manager was arrested last month over rape accusations by a female colleague   (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
A Alibaba manager was arrested last month over rape accusations by a female colleague (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A court in China has dropped a case against a former Alibaba manager after determining he committed "forcible indecency” on an employee but not a crime.

The People’s Procuratorate of Huaiyin District in Jinan City said that after reviewing the case they have determined that the man, identified as Wang, had committed forcible indecency — a broad term that includes sexual assault — but does not constitute a crime.

The employee of the the world’s biggest e-commerce company was arrested last month after a female colleague posted a 11-page account accusing the manager of allegedly raping her during a business trip in Jinan city.

She alleged that the company’s senior management and human resources did not take her report seriously. Her accusations triggered a public backlash, forcing the e-commerce giant to fire the manager, and suspend other employees.

The Jinan police said that Wang will be detained for 15 days as a punishment.

He was detained under 44 of the administrative Public Security Management Punishment Law which imposes 15 days detention for molesting a person or intentionally exposing themselves, “with other serious circumstances.”

In response to the decision by prosecutors, Alibaba said that it has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct.

"Alibaba Group has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct, and ensuring a safe workplace for all our employees is Alibaba’s top priority,” a Alibaba spokesperson said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The woman had alleged in the document that she was inebriated after a “drunken night” when her manager raped her in a hotel room. She alleged she was ordered to drink alcohol by her superiors during dinner and a client named Zhang also forcibly kissed her.

But, China’s state media Global Times reported on Tuesday that the police investigation showed the woman had drunk “about 350 millilitres of alcohol the previous night but no one forced her to drink excessively."

The ruling has caused a stir on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo after Mr Wang’s wife hailed the judgement. She thanked the court for “fair handling of the case, and... all enthusiastic netizens for their understanding, encouragement and support."

The case triggered a larger conversation about the “Me Too” movement in the country as people raised questions over protections in place for women and gender minorities in tech companies that historically have had large gender gaps.

“Message received: Sexually assaulting women won’t put you behind bars,” one Weibo user wrote.

“This guy should start a training course: how to conduct forcible indecency that is not criminal,” said another.

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