An anti-sexual harassment campaign has launched in parts of the Beijing subway system amid repeated reports of assault against women on the city’s public transport system.
Sponsored by the state-run Beijing Women’s Federation, the posters call in bright red text for people to “not act as the silent lamb” and “not be the indifferent spectator.”
Sexual harassment on subways is a widespread problem for women in China. A survey conducted by the state-run China Youth Daily in August 2017 found 53.5% of female respondents said either they or a woman they knew had experienced sexual harassment in the subway.
Speaking to CNN, a Beijing mother surnamed Chen said the posters were a first step in helping to raise awareness around the issue of sexual harassment on trains.
According to Chen, most women knows someone who has experienced some form of sexual abuse while traveling on the capital’s rail network.
“I had a colleague who was sexually harassed…a man pretended to squeeze past her and used his hand to touch her breasts. She glared at him, and when the train stopped she immediately got off,” she told CNN.
It isn’t the first time the Beijing Women’s Federation has resorted to using posters in an attempt to stop harassment. Awareness posters were first posted in 2017 from August 1st to August 14th, running on eight different lines of the Beijing subway.
The recent re-introduction of the posters will see them placed on 12 separate trains on a single rail line.
“When we were designing the slogan, we wanted to remind women not to be ‘silent lambs’ while also appealing to the public not to be indifferent spectators, so that they dare to speak, promptly stop violations, and jointly prevent sexual harassment,” Han Dongmei, deputy director of the Beijing Women’s Federation’s rights department, told the state-run publication China Women’s News.
The latest advertising campaign comes as women in China are increasingly pushing for authorities to take action against reports of sexual harassment, in a movement similar to the #MeToo campaign.
In July, accusations of abuse in the non-government organization sector went viral across China’s social media, with more than 100,000 posts calling for action.
On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, the anti-sexual harassment awareness posters received widespread attention.
A post about the awareness campaign by the blog “Beijing People Don’t Know Beijing Things” gained almost 25,000 likes since it was posted last week.
Commenters applauded the Beijing Women’s Federation, with some recounting their own experiences with harassers, who are referred to colloquially as “salty pigs” and “sex wolves.”
Chen told CNN that she had learned a lot about avoiding dangerous people since coming to Beijing. “When you get on the train, you have to study the people near you, and avoid people who look strange,” she said.
“As a woman in China, you can believe that all people are good at heart, but you must be aware.”