Former Alibaba employee warns going public causes victims ‘hurt’

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An employee of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba who was fired after she went public with a sexual assault allegation has said she is not encouraging other victims in China to come forward because doing so “will only cause them to suffer more hurt”.

The employee, whose surname is Zhou, had gone public in August with accusations that a fellow employee had sexually assaulted her during a business trip.

The case prompted a public outcry over the handling of sexual assault cases in China.

In a recent interview with Chinese newspaper Dahe Daily, Ms Zhou said she had received many messages from other women who said they too had been plied with alcohol and sexually assaulted during work-related events. Most of them did not come forward, choosing to tolerate it or resign instead.

“I will not appeal to other victims of sexual assault to come forth and share their stories, as doing so could cause them to suffer even more hurt.

“I hope that (they) can eventually walk out of their trauma and lead a normal and ordinary life.”

Ms Zhou had been sent a letter in November informing her about the termination of her employment, according to documents seen by The Associated Press.

The company’s decision came even as Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang pledged in a public memo in August to form an anti-sexual harassment policy and said that the employee accused of the assault had been fired.

According to the letter from Alibaba subsidiary Zhejiang Tmall Technology, she was dismissed for spreading false information about her assault and how the company had allegedly not handled the issue appropriately. Her actions had negatively impacted the company, the letter read.

Alibaba offices in Beijing
Ms Zhou said Alibaba had not taken the matter seriously when she reported the assault (Andy Wong/AP)

Ms Zhou’s dismissal from Alibaba came weeks after Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai posted a social media post alleging that she was sexually assaulted by former top Communist Party official Zhang Gaoli. Ms Peng has largely remained out of the public eye since the accusations, stoking concerns that her safety may be at stake.

In August, Ms Zhou had published a lengthy 8,000-word post on Alibaba’s internal system detailing the alleged sexual assault by a fellow employee and a client during a business trip the month before.

She claimed that Alibaba had not taken the matter seriously when she reported the assault.

Chinese prosecutors in September dropped the case against the former Alibaba employee – whose surname is Wang – accused of sexual assault, giving him a 15-day detention instead.

Ms Zhou has since filed an appeal against the decision.

But prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for the client – whose surname is Zhang – who Ms Zhou had also accused of assaulting her.

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