Earlier this year, the New York Times reported on China's emerging #MeToo movement, noting that "silence breakers" in the male-dominated culture face the added obstacle of government censors. It now describes how a 20-year-old alleged rape case has broken through barriers to bring about change. It centers on Gao Yan, a 21-year-old who committed suicide in 1998 after claiming she was raped by Peking University professor Shen Yang, whom Gao said had then started a rumor that she had a mental illness. Shared recently by her former classmates—including one who wrote a widely read essay targeting Shen, who denies the allegations—Gao's story is seen as an example of the abuse suffered by women in China, per the Times, and universities including Peking, which Shen left in 2011, have responded with promises to do better.
Nanjing University and Shanghai Normal University, schools where Shen taught recently, say they've ended relationships with the professor, reports the Telegraph. Peking University, meanwhile, says Shen received a "warning penalty" after police found he'd "violated teachers' morality" in 1998, per the Telegraph. The school is now promising to institute new rules on sexual harassment, reports Global News, but student activists are cautious. One tells the Times that Peking has "shown no sense of introspection about the unequal power dynamics between students and teachers" since Gao's death. "Merely resolving one or two specific cases is meant to gag the public," she adds. Speaking of gag orders, the Times reports an article published by Chinese media Monday contained sexual harassment accusations against Shen by a second student, but that article was quickly deleted.