Women in China ponder safety after hotel assault incident

Women in China ponder safety after hotel assault incident
Protesters holding signs outside the Yitel hotel in Beijing, after the choking and attempted kidnapping of a Chinese woman at a Beijing hotel in full view of security cameras and multiple passers-by.
PHOTO: AFP

The arrest of a man in connection with the alleged assault of a woman at a four-star Beijing hotel has led many people to discuss the case, and the safety of women.

The news came on Friday when Beijing police posted a micro blog to say they had arrested a 24-year-old man surnamed Li on suspicion of involvement. They made the arrest at around 9 pm on Thursday in Xuchang city, Henan province.

"We established a special team to investigate the case after becoming aware of online video clips (of the incident) in which a man appeared to attack and drag a woman," the posting said. Police are continuing their investigation, it added.

The alleged assault, which reportedly happened on Sunday, has garnered a great deal of attention in China, where many netizens have criticised the hotel's security arrangements.

Sun Jian, CEO of the hotel's parent company, Homeinns Hotel Group, a popular budget hotel chain in China, issued a statement on Friday apologising for any failings and vowing to thoroughly review security.

The alleged victim said she accepted the apology, and added that she wants to know the truth about what happened and is not seeking compensation.

She said in her micro blog that she was relieved to hear about the arrest of a suspect and welcomed the hotel chain's review of its security.

"My two main requirements have been met," she wrote. "I'm tired now and want to go back to my normal life."

The woman, 27, was a tourist from Zhejiang province when the alleged incident happened. She wrote about it online on Tuesday night, saying she was followed and attacked by the suspect in the Yitel Hotel, in the Chaoyang district of the capital.

Video clips apparently recorded by hotel surveillance cameras show the man taking the same elevator as her and exiting on the same floor. He then appears to suddenly grab her, drag her and choke her, apparently covering her mouth to prevent her yelling.

Several people, including a hotel employee, are then seen passing by, but no one offers help until some guests finally realise what is happening and step in.

The incident caused many people to comment about the lack of willingness by many passers-by to get involved in situations. Others have commented online about the importance of women learning self-defence.

Ruan Chuansheng, a Shanghai criminal lawyer, said it was too soon to speculate on which charges the suspect might face.

"But it's good to see the case has caught women's attention and caused them to think about protecting themselves," he said. "The topic of personal safety will, I think, remain a hot topic for some time."

Xu Yun, 28, a Beijing resident, said she has bought pepper spray online to avoid being in a similar situation.

"It's necessary for women to ask ourselves how much we know about self-protection."

And Liu Xinrui, 27, a Beijing resident who works for a film company, said: "I will be concerned when I have a business trip alone or I come back home late. I'm searching for self-protection tips on social media and also looking for products used for self-defence."

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