Vera Lui Lai-yiu, the 23-year-old star hurdler, shocked her fellow citizens on her birthday on Nov. 30 by revealing on social media that she was sexually assaulted by her former coach when she was still a teen.
Posting her own picture on her social media page holding a sign that reads “#ME TOO”, Lui wrote that “telling people the truth is the birthday present I gave to myself”.
Lui’s outcry has caught the attention of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who praised her for her courage to speak up about her painful experience. Lam has ordered the police to follow up on her case.
“#MeToo” refers to an ongoing movement that is taking the world by storm, under which sexual assault victims are encouraged to break their silence and tell their stories to the world in order to raise public awareness about sex crimes and, most importantly, prompt the authorities to take action to deliver justice.
However, as Tarana Burke, the person who initiated the “#MeToo” movement, has pointed out, while the public is applauding sex crime victims who have stepped forward and broken their silence for their courage, it is important to provide these victims with solid support such as counselling, legal advice or even shelter.
In fact, some sexual assault victims have chosen to remain silent and suffer alone largely because of the fear of being stigmatized and their own sense of helplessness.
Given that, sexual abuse victims being inspired by the “#MeToo” movement to speak up represent only the first step in the right direction. The next thing society must do is for the government to provide real support for these victims.
Apart from the police’s proactive follow-up on Lui’s case, the Social Welfare Department should also offer her counselling, while the Equal Opportunities Commission, which has been responsible for fighting sexual harassment, should also step up and provide her with legal advice.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 1
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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