Update: Authorities in China on Monday dropped a rape case against a former manager at Alibaba, saying that his actions did not constitute a crime, reports the New York Times. The man was released after 15 days of detention. He had been arrested after a female Alibaba employee went public with accusations of being assaulted in a hotel room during a business trip. The People’s Procuratorate of Huaiyin District in Jinan City concluded that while Wang committed what it called "forcible indecency," it was not a crime, per the Guardian. Our original story from Aug. 9 follows:
A female employee of Alibaba Group says she was groped by a client and raped by a supervisor last month while seriously inebriated after being pressured to drink during a work trip. She later complained to HR but didn't think staff was taking her claims seriously—so on Friday, using a loudspeaker at Alibaba's Hangzhou dining hall, she started detailing to her colleagues what had happened, per the South China Morning Post. Security stopped her, so over the weekend she posted a letter internally that found its way onto Chinese social media on the incident she says took place on July 27. Now, her alleged assaulter, who goes by the name Quyi at work, has been fired after confessing to improper "intimate acts," and two senior executives have resigned, accused of not responding appropriately to the incident, or in a timely manner, after she complained. Meanwhile, Judy Tong, the company's head of HR, has had her personnel record dinged for her lack of leadership regarding the incident.
The company says it has set up an internal task force to investigate the incident and is also working with police on their own probe, per the Post and Bloomberg. "This incident is a humiliation for all [Alibaba employees]," Chair Daniel Zhang wrote in a memo to staff. Per a company statement, "Alibaba has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct." Quyi had applied for a job at TikTok owner ByteDance, but that company said on Monday it had quashed his application after finding out about the rape accusations. Changes are to come at Alibaba, Zhang vowed in his memo. "It starts with me," he wrote. "Please wait and watch." Proposed changes include new anti-sexual harassment rules, a way for workers to anonymously report incidents, and the rejection of "ugly" drinking culture. Women's rights advocates say even if Alibaba's response is a "stunt" to protect its reputation, it's a welcome one. "The message that it sends is very important," one tells the Washington Post. (Read more Alibaba stories.)