Police in the eastern Shandong province have detained a man accused of assaulting his former wife after surveillance footage of the incident surfaced online, according to a statement published Tuesday. The incident has once again sparked discussions on women’s safety in the wake of the brutal attack against a group of female diners that shocked the country last month.
The surveillance footage, which went viral on social media on Sunday, showed a man dressed in a raincoat violently dragging a woman and a girl into a house as they screamed. The man later reappeared shirtless in the camera footage, seemingly checking the electricity meter before reentering the woman’s house.
Police in the city of Laiyang confirmed the man, surnamed Zhan, forcibly dragged his ex-wife, surnamed Jiang, and their daughter inside the house as seen in the video on the night of July 6, according to the statement. Police said that Zhan started harassing his wife to remarry him earlier this month, and the couple had filed for divorce on June 16.
Zhan is also accused of having “forced sexual intercourse” with Jiang that same night, according to the police statement.
The violent footage comes at a time when a spate of gender-based violence has made national news headlines over the past months, triggering widespread concerns for women’s safety. Social media users expressed shock and called for more severe punishments, arguing that the previous marriage should not shield the perpetrators from punishments.
In June, nine people were arrested for harassing and brutally attacking female diners after the latter objected to unwanted sexual advances in the city of Tangshan, northern Hebei province. That same month, a Shanghai university student was expelled after he attempted to drug a female student in the library.
Despite growing awareness about the need to protect women’s safety in the public sphere, experts and activists have warned that unsound legal mechanisms with light punishments have made it difficult for women to safeguard their rights, and that the tolerance of misogynistic acts has bred gender-based abuse. In the wake of current events, many women have turned to learning self-defense skills to protect themselves.
Tan Mintao, a lawyer at Beijing Zhongwen Law Firm, told China Newsweek that the suspect was likely to be indicted for rape and trespassing. Based on the criminal laws in China, a husband is not exempted from a rape crime if he has unconsensual sexual intercourse with his wife and will be imprisoned for at least three years.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: coehm/VCG)