WCOEO calls for investigation into Hong Kong Police's use of sexual violence and solidarity for human dignity at AntiELAb #MeToo rally

The Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities (WOCEO, or the Coalition) has held an 'AntiELAb #MeToo Rally' on 28th August 2019 at Chater Garden, Central. Various victim-survivors of sexual violence in the the 'Anti-Extradition Bill Movement', representatives from concern groups and individuals have spoken on stage at the rally.

The following statement has been delivered by Linda S. Y. Wong, spokesperson of the Coalition in the beginning of the AntiELAb #MeToo Rally at Chater Garden, Central.

The Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities has been closely monitoring the police's use of excessive force on protestors in the anti-extradition movement over the last two months. It has come to our attention that the police have repeatedly committed sexual violence against protestors and citizens. In particular, there are two recent flagrant cases of police sexual violence against female protestors under arrest. One involved the unnecessary and unreasonable strip-search of a female protestor without gloves days after her arrest, and police officers used a pen to touch her and make her spread her legs, in attempt to humiliate and degrade the protester.

 

Another incident occurred in Tin Shui Wai on 5th August when police arrested a female protestor outside the police station. They grabbed her with such force that her skirt and underwear became dislodged, such that she exposed her private parts to the press and the public for an extended period of time while being carried away. Even though police were aware of the situation, they barred the protestor from fixing her clothes, seriously violating her autonomy and dignity.

 

Every human being has the right to participate in political activities and freedom of political speech. Apart from the above cases, we have further observed that people of different genders, including male protestors have also been subjected to sexual violence by the police.

In the name of law enforcement, police are using sexual violence as an instrument of intimidation. They intend to silence women through sexual shame and humiliation, violating women's right to bodily autonomy, as well as every person's right to lawful assembly. The Coalition makes the strongest condemnation of police use of sexual violence as a means to intimidate protestors.

The Coalition resolutely demands the Police Force to seriously investigate and make accountable acts of sexual violence committed by police officers during the anti-extradition protests. Perpetrators of police brutality must be held responsible. Justice must be served.

The Coalition calls on all victim-survivors to step forward with courage, file complaints against police sexual violence and seek help. We shall not be intimidated by sexual violence into silence.

 

'We have seen female protestor's undergarment dislodge when she was arrested, and we have also heard accusation of officers forced a female protestor to remove all of her clothes for a strip search, and touched the protestor's body with a pen', said Susanne Choi, professor of sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 'If the accusation is proven to be true, not only did the involved officers commit sexual harassment, that was also a violation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, an international treaty that is applicable in Hong Kong.'

 

'Compared to men, women have been shouldering disproportionate sacrifices in order to participate in political activities,' said Raees Baig, Chairperson of Amnesty International Hong Kong. 'The government must protect women's right to political participation, and immediately appoint an independent inquiry to look into all forms of gender-based violence in response.'

 

8 victim-survivors that have experienced sexual violence have also spoken at the rally in person or through audio recordings.

Member of the Coalition, Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women, launched 'A Survey on Experiences of Sexual Violence in the "Anti-Extradition Bill" Movement' last week (21st Aug). As of noon yesterday (27th Aug), 221 valid questionnaires have been collected. 46 of them have reported to have suffered from sexual violence during the movement, including non-consensual contact of private parts, threat of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, and being humiliated by using sex related language.

 Among the 46 respondents' experience, 23 of them have reported being sexually harassed by the police or other law enforcement officers and 8 cases occurred in detention facilities, most of which involved more than one perpetrator. There are 18 cases involving pro-establishment supporters as perpetrators, and 4 cases involving the demonstrators as perpetrators.

 The survey will continue on bit.ly/stopsv til the end of September.

WCOEO, Press ReleaseACSVAW2019