A teenage girl from northwestern China has created shock waves by publicly accusing a schoolteacher of four years of rape, physical abuse and blackmail.
The girl, now 17, told the City and Youth Channel of Shaanxi Television on Wednesday that the teacher at Chenggu County No 4 Middle School in Shaanxi province forced her into a sexual relationship and threatened her with violence if she spoke about the attacks.
Authorities began an investigation into allegations against a 42-year-old man about a week ago after the girl was found beaten up on a country road. A man identified by the surname Ni was taken into police custody in connection with the attacks. The county's education bureau has also launched an inquiry, Shaanxi Television reported.
The interview with the girl was widely reported by Chinese newspapers and had been viewed more than 18 million times on Weibo by Thursday afternoon.
The student claimed she was first raped in 2015, when she was summoned by Ni to a classroom on the pretext of teaching her to draw.
"He grabbed me from behind after I entered the room," she told Shaanxi Television. "I struggled and screamed, but he covered my mouth with his hand."
Ni repeatedly raped her over the years, she claimed, and filmed the assaults. He would often hit her and threaten to make the videos public, she said.
They last met on February 18, when the girl tried to persuade Ni to delete the videos but she was beaten again, she said. "He slapped my face and seized me by the throat in his car. He then held me down, sat on me and continued to hit me."
The attacks stopped when passers-by witnessed the man beating the teenager and called police, the report said.
"The girl has suffered a trauma in the past couple of years. She has tried to kill herself several times, but I did not know the real reason," the girl's mother said in the report. "I thought it was the pressure at school."
For some on social media, the story was an indictment of Chinese society's treatment of sexual assault victims.
"Such an experience would be 'humiliating' in China," one commenter said. "People around her would not really feel sorry for her. They would avoid her because she was 'dirty'."
"All girls who have come forward in an environment with such a patchy rule of law and pressure from the public are brave," another said.
Students at schools and colleges began to speak out last year in the wake of the international #MeToo movement and a national campaign against sexual harassment that spread across schools and college campuses.
A year ago, Luo Qianqian, a former student at Beihang University in Beijing, alleged that she and at least five other women had been sexually harassed by one of their professors. The professor was fired after an inquiry found his behaviour "was a breach of administrative discipline and the norms of being a teacher".
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.