Police investigating Alibaba Group manager for ‘forcible indecency’ not rape

Former manager suspected of committing ‘forcible indecency,’ a term that can encompass sexual assault

Anuj Pant
Monday 16 August 2021 12:19
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<p>File: Allegations of rape by a woman employee of Alibaba Group has sent shockwaves in China’s tech industry</p>

File: Allegations of rape by a woman employee of Alibaba Group has sent shockwaves in China’s tech industry

Chinese police, looking into an Alibaba Group employee’s accusation of sexual assault against her male manager, said they found no evidence of rape but are probing “forcible indecency,” according to reports.

The former manager has been suspected of committing “forcible indecency”, a term that can encompass sexual assault.

The woman alleged that the former manager had raped her when she was unconscious after a meeting with clients and colleagues on 27 July in Jinan, a city in eastern China.

Jinan police, in its report, highlighted certain details of the case, but questions about the incident remain, sparking concerns that have sent shockwaves across the country’s tech industry.

Police’s report confirmed parts of the woman’s account of the incident, something she had posted online that had led to a larger conversation about the #MeToo movement in the country.

The male manager had allegedly entered the woman’s room four times after meeting with a client that involved alcohol consumption, said the police. The woman had said she woke up naked the following morning with a box of condoms lying in her room.

The manager did order condoms online, but only picked them up the next morning and discarded them, according to the police.

The manager and the client – who was also fired – have been held for questioning, said police in a Weibo post.

After the dinner, the manager and a co-worker escorted the woman back to the hotel. She was, however, too inebriated to remember her room number, so the manager handed over the woman’s identification and key.

Police said the manager later got a room key made and entered the woman’s room four times.

He was accused of “forcible indecency” the second time he entered the room at around 11.23pm, 10 minutes after which he ordered the condoms, said the police report, according to Bloomberg.

Police, however, said the manager collected the condoms at around 10am the next day.

The manager entered the woman’s room the third time after midnight and then the fourth time to collect his umbrella.

The client was suspected of “forcible indecency” twice as well. The first time for accompanying the woman back to the dinner table after she vomited from the excessive drinking during the meeting and the second time, when he entered the woman’s room at 7.59am.

The client was contacted by the woman early the following day and was given her room number, after which he left at 9.35am, taking her underwear but leaving a package of unopened condoms, the police report said.

The involvement of the client, including the act of taking her underwear, raise questions of the woman being abused by both of them, said some media reports. The other details of the case, however, remain unclear, according to Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang, in a memo released shortly after several employees pushed back in support of the woman, said he was “shocked, angry and ashamed” about the incident and told the supervisors to apologise to the employee for “not handling it quickly.”

The incident comes as Alibaba faces increasing government scrutiny and a larger debate over the protections in place for women and gender minorities in tech companies that historically have had large gender gaps.

Alibaba has implemented measures such as a hotline and a team of senior women executives charged with investigating sexual harassment complaints.

The tech giant is also slated to release findings from its own internal inquiry as well, according to Bloomberg.

The incident reveals gaps in the country’s perception of the #MeToo movement as it has few outlets for dissent and activism.

The Communist Party of China’s anti-corruption watchdog commented on the incident and cited “under the table rules” including forced drinking for business purposes, seemingly alluding to the curtailment of alcohol from business, instead of pressing for the need for accountability from the perpetrators of the crime.

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