- Video of woman attacked by stranger in hotel went viral online
- Woman claiming to be the victim spoke out on social media
- Chinese outraged by bystanders' response
(CNN)Surveillance footage in a Beijing hotel captured a frightening scene Sunday night.
A man follows a young Chinese woman from an elevator to her fourth-floor hotel room. As she searches for her key, he grabs her from behind, pulls her down to the ground and tries to choke her.
A member of hotel staff approaches the man but, despite the woman's cries for help, doesn't try to stop the attack.
The alleged attacker then dials a number on his cellphone appearing to ask for back up. More than three minutes pass as they struggle before a female hotel guest intervenes and the woman runs to safety.
A shocking video of the incident -- posted on social media by the woman who claimed she was attacked -- has gone viral in China this week and unleashed a furious debate over violence against women, the role of bystanders and what some believe is the ingrained sexism of Chinese officialdom.
'Crying, begging to be set free'
The woman identified herself as Wanwan_2016 on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, and said she thought bystanders believed it was a fight between a couple.
"I was startled out of my mind at the time. All I could do was to keep crying and begging him to set me free," she said, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.
The woman claimed in a detailed account on Weibo that when she called the local police, she was told the case was not under the administration of that station.
In a statement, the Beijing Wangjing 798 Heyi Hotel apologized to the woman and said it failed to handle the incident efficiently. It said that they tried to contact the woman once they had learned about the incident.
A hotel spokesperson told CNN the hotel had no further comment beyond the statement.
Beijing police didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but a police investigation into the incident is underway, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The woman didn't say how she obtained the video, which showed her watching surveillance footage of the attack.
Feng Yuan, an advocate for domestic violence victims, said that many in China's male-dominated society assumed that violence in an intimate relationship was a private matter -- despite a new domestic violence law that took effect in March.
"It's understandable that bystanders wouldn't intervene to protect themselves, but it doesn't mean they should ignore what was happening; they could try smarter ways to call the police or draw attention. "
Much of the online conversation focused on how women could escape being assaulted.
"If you were in trouble at a hotel, try your best to damage facilities or smash doors in the hotel," Xinhua quoted one online commenter as saying.
"In that case, staff in the hotel won't let the criminals take you away. At the same time, yell out loud that you do not know the man and scream for help."
But others questioned whether the onus was really on a woman to prevent herself being attacked.
"When women are publicly assaulted or kidnapped yet no one intervenes and the police refuse to take the case, only to rely on social media to uphold justice, (we) are living in a collective shame," Qin Liwen, a commentator and former journalist said.