CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Tread carefully around #me too

HONG KONG (UCAN): As the #me too campaign sweeps the globe, Hong Kong celebrities who have to date disclosed stories about sexual abuse they have been subjected to have been both criticised and praised.
Hurdling champion, Vera Lui Lai-yiu, revealed on her Facebook page that she was sexually abused by her coach when she was a teenager, saying said she made the revelation on her 23rd birthday in an attempt to graduate from being a victim to becoming a survivor.
Her post provoked a wide-ranging response, with some coming from community leaders, government officials and politicians.
The coach mentioned by Lui was fired, but the chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, praised her for her courage and claimed to have instructed the commissioner of police to follow up the case. Celebrities and district councillors also urged other women to disclose their stories.
However, Lui’s courage in coming forward was not met with approval by everyone in Hong Kong.
Many are questioning why Lui is making a public announcement about a criminal offence without first reporting the matter to the police, which they argue amounts to an unjustified sentencing of the coach.
Kit, a well-known Hong Kong columnist, wrote, “Thanks to Facebook’s new generation, just posting a selfie unilaterally is able to create lots of Harvey Weinsteins or Kevin Spaceys.” His comment won much praise online.
Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, a Wan Chai District councillor, responded to the #me too campaign, telling of a recent experience of being harassed while buying takeaway food after a man deliberately bumped into her. An arrest was later made and Yeung told the media she will pursue charges.
But her honesty was met with ridicule by many on social media. One posted that if you meet Yeung, turn away, otherwise you will be accused of indecent assault.
Yeung told reporters that indecent assaults are common in Hong Kong, but few victims are willing to speak out, “because the victim is uncomfortable about being criticised by the community.”
She said that while the #me too campaign has gained support in other countries, it has not gained much positive response in Hong Kong.
Linda Wong Sau-yung, the executive director of Rain Lily, the first one-stop rape crisis centre for female victims of sexual violence in the city, pointed out that it was Hong Kong, rather than Taiwan or Macau, which responded to the campaign first.
Still, she said, it was difficult for victims to speak out.
“Hong Kong is developed, but it is a Chinese community, so it is still taboo to talk about sexual topics,” she commented, adding, that due to a patriarchal supremacy women are often blamed as deserving of sexual assault.
“Such a culture leaves women with less courage to disclose or report,” Wong said.
She encouraged more victims to stand up and break the cultural taboos and for society to support them. “Since the #me too campaign was launched, I have heard that many guys have begun to feel afraid. In the past, they may have verbally violated or felt up ladies, thinking there will be no consequences, but there are now,” she explained.
Rosanna Ho Yim-fan, the project leader from the Caritas Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma Programme, added that the #me too campaign gives a channel for victims to speak out. But she is advising them to tread carefully.
“It is better to consult a counsellor or a social worker before making a decision to disclose such a private story on a social media platform and be prepared to face negative criticism in order to avoid a second trauma, as we cannot control comments left on the Internet,” she advised.

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