CCTV footage of a group of men brutally assaulting multiple women in a restaurant in Tangshan, China, has gone viral, sparking nationwide outrage and inciting conversations about gender-based violence.
In the video taken on Friday around 2:40 am, a man can be seen walking over to a table of three women at a BBQ restaurant. He closes in on a woman in a white T-shirt and puts his hand on her back.
The woman can be seen immediately pushing him away with her hand, evidently upset by the proposal.
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The man pauses for a moment before striking the woman in the face. Physical contact escalates between the two, and the woman’s friend from across the table reaches over and strikes the man across the face with a beer bottle.
More men, who appear to be friends of the man, suddenly enter the restaurant and begin attacking the women.
The nine men had the clear advantage when it came to physical strength, with the women mostly putting their hands up in defense to shield themselves from the fists and chairs being hurled at them.
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A woman, likely a restaurant employee, also enters the frame as she unsuccessfully attempts to calm one of the men down.
An outdoor CCTV captured the attacks as they continued outside the restaurant, with the woman in white brutally and repeatedly stomped in the face.
The shocking violence in the video has dominated the attention of Chinese social media users over the past weekend, with the clip itself garnering hundreds of millions of views.
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One female 34-year-old netizen stated in horror that it could have happened “to any of us,” referring to the possibility of violence or death for women after rejecting sex or sexual advancement more broadly.
Weibo users also demanded justice, expressing how the men ought to be punished severely and criticize law enforcement for being slow to act.
Since the incident, Tangshan police have issued a statement assuring that all nine suspects involved in the attacks had been identified, including four of whom had fled 600 miles south.
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The police also notified the public that the two women who were hospitalized had non-life-threatening injuries and remained in stable condition.
A widely circulated article published by the US-based bilingual news site China Digital Times on Saturday noted that what had taken place at the Tangshan BBQ restaurant was “not an isolated social incident but part of systemic gender violence.” He expressed the need to “acknowledge that we still live in an environment that supports, encourages, and drives men to engage in gender-based violence against women.”
The outlet also condemned blaming victims for the violence, stating that language describing the incident as the man having “placed” his hand on her back or merely “starting up a conversation” did not properly convey the violent nature of the incident.
The journey of Chinese feminists has been an uphill battle, with the government actively arresting activists and censoring online debates.
Online discussions surrounding the Tangshan incident have already been filtered, with the article originally published on WeChat having been removed from the website.
Featured Image via Reuters