TWF Reaction to Recent Sexual Violence in Hong Kong

We have been deeply troubled by increasing reports of sexual violence against women in Hong Kong over the last several weeks.

Recent Sexual Violence

We have been deeply troubled by increasing reports of sexual violence against women in Hong Kong over the last several weeks. We are further concerned with the number of allegations made against the Hong Kong Police regarding sexual violence.

The Women’s Foundation has been a long term advocate for increased measures to protect individuals in Hong Kong against sexual violence and to ensure the dignity and rights of all women and girls are fully respected. We believe any acts of sexual violence concerning any gender are completely unacceptable and all reports should be treated seriously, and thoroughly and appropriately investigated.

To this end we have written to the Hong Kong Police as well as the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Women’s Commission, and the Hong Kong Government to express our deep concerns and provide our counsel. We have urged them and other relevant authorities to conduct thorough and independent investigations of all incidents and to take urgent remedial action to prevent any further allegations and ensure public trust. Such measures should include gender sensitivity and harassment training, and strengthening of Police General Orders to incorporate enhanced requirements around gender sensitivity and the prevention of sexual harassment.

To further support victims we have called for the introduction of a Code of Practice for the investigation of sexual violence crimes. With the aim of increasing the confidence of sexual violence victims and the public in the management of sexual violence crimes, the Code should include: measures to minimise trauma experienced by sexual violence victims during investigations; a coordinated approach to handling sexual violence cases by Hong Kong Police, medical services and other victim support services; and achievement of best practice through consistent, clear and accountable responses to, and investigations of, sexual violence crimes.

We hope these actions and measures will reduce incidences of sexual violence in Hong Kong, as well as support victims, and ensure that the safety, dignity and human rights of all residents – particularly women and girls – are fully respected.

Online Sexual Harassment

We are also concerned by the increased reports of online sexual harassment. According to Hong Kong Free Press, women are impacted far worse by online harassers and targeted more frequently than their male counterparts. They are regularly subject to online rape threats, body-shaming, doctored photos and abusive gendered attacks.

This is cause for deep concern - just because abuse takes place in a virtual space doesn’t make it any less real. We now seamlessly navigate the online and the offline every day, often straddling both spaces at once. It is crucial for us to address the sexual violence that women and girls face in both realms.

TWF will be reaching out to our social media and tech partners to discuss enhanced protections and solutions to curb sexist behaviour, abuse, harassment and hateful comments in cyberspace to combat cyberbullying and all forms of sexual and gender-based violence online.

As individuals, we can all more be vigilant about reporting instances of this type of online abuse to the relevant platforms as soon as it occurs. And through joint efforts and persistence, we can together tackle the unwieldy issue of sexual violence from the bottom up and the top down.

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Written by

The Women's Foundation