A Hong Kong athlete has revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a former coach when she was just 13, becoming one of the first public figures in the city to step up to the #MeToo movement.
Lui Lai-yiu, a hurdler who earlier this year won Hong Kong’s first gold medal in the Asian Indoor Games, says she was assaulted 10 years ago.
She said she was inspired to share her story after reading U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney’s heart-wrenching story of abuse by her gymnastic doctor.
In a Facebook post, the now 23-year-old Lui said she met her former coach, identified as Y, through extracurricular activities.
Over the course of a year, he slowly gained her trust. It was one Saturday after class that her coach rang her.
“He asked me if my muscles were tense after my exercise last week, and said he could give me a massage to relax my muscles,” she said in a statement on Facebook.
“To me this seemed perfectly normal, and to me, he was someone I respected as a teacher.”
The coach added that it would be easier to carry out the massage at his home, where he asked her to lie on the bed. He went on with his “massage”, first taking off her jeans, then her underwear, before touching her private parts.
“Even when he was taking off my underwear, I couldn’t even react,” she said.
After the incident, she remained in contact with the coach, even joining in his birthday celebrations every year.
“How do I celebrate the birthday of someone who sexually assaulted me? Am I crazy? I don’t know. Maybe I could even fool myself into believing that this never happened,” she went on to say.
Sexual harassment in Chinese culture
Lui goes on to add in her statement that cases of sexual assault have gone mainly unreported in Hong Kong.
“Sexual issues… are never openly discussed in Chinese culture.”
“In Chinese culture, sexual issues have always been considered embarrassing…and never openly discussed,” she says.[I urge victims to] stand up — your courage could inspire countless others, just like McKayla has inspired me.”
Her post has since gone viral, with over 23,000 likes and just over 4,000 shares in less than 24 hours.
The allegations come after Chinese state media claimed that sexual harassment was something that simply didn’t happen in Chinese culture.
“Behaving inappropriately toward women, including harassing them sexually, contradicts every Chinese traditional value and custom,” says the China Daily article, written by Sava Hassan, a Canadian Egyptian author living in China.
“Chinese traditional values tend to safeguard women against inappropriate behaviour.”
The article was later taken down after receiving a wave of backlash.
Uh, having attended China’s most prestigious film school, the Beijing Film Academy, I can tell you that you are gravely mistaken.
— Christoph Rehage (@crehage) October 16, 2017
Sexual harassment such an intrinsic part of everyday life in China that women probably don’t know what it’s like without it. https://t.co/0eaAGoXscV
— Elyse Ribbons 柳素英 (@iheartbeijing) October 16, 2017
#MeToo has seen countless women coming forward to share their experiences of sexual abuse and harassment, including numerous female athletes.
So far, Lui is the only Chinese athlete that has spoken up about sexual assault under the #MeToo movement.