118 Chinese men detained for groping women on Beijing subway trains

Police task force known as the ‘Wolf Hunt Squad’ turns up the heat on sexual predators on city’s busy metro

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 1:03pm

More than 30 men have been punished since May for sexually harassing women on the Beijing subway under a new campaign to crack down on the offence, according to local media reports.

A police task force, nicknamed the “Wolf Hunt Squad” in reference to the slang term “Colour Wolf” for a sexual pervert, has apprehended 118 such offenders since its establishment in June last year, The Beijing News reported.

Women have long complained of sexual harassment on China’s subway network, especially during peak hours when the trains are packed and physical contact is hard to avoid.

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A survey conducted last summer by China Youth Daily found that 53 per cent of women said they or their friends had been sexually harassed on the metro.

Liu Dapeng, a police officer with the Beijing task force, explained in The Beijing News article how he and his colleagues apprehended a suspect on Friday morning at the station nearest to Communication University of China.

He said the man “deliberately stood between two women” and “took advantage of the crowds during the morning peak hour” to grope one of them.

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To charge the man with an offence, however, Liu and his colleagues needed evidence, so three officers followed the suspect for 15 minutes, filming his actions on their mobile phones. Once they had sufficient footage, they detained the man and took him to the police station.

“You could tell by the way he behaved it was not a spur of the moment thing,” Liu said.

The report did not say if the man detained on Friday or any of the others were charged with a criminal offence.

Securing any kind of charge is not easy. Recording offences as they happen on busy trains is difficult, and many victims are reluctant to speak out even after their offenders have been seized, police officers were quoted as saying.

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While the size of the task force has been expanded to more than 20 teams across Beijing, there have been complaints that the government is not doing enough to deal with the problem of sexual harassment against women, and that attempts to raise awareness of the problem by advocacy groups have been squashed as President Xi Jinping has tightened his grip on civil society.

In Guangzhou, a group of young feminists last summer raised more than 40,000 yuan (US$6,000) to pay for an advertising campaign on the subject in subway stations, but their efforts were repeatedly blocked by the authorities.