A very influential Chinese Buddhist monk has been caught up in a sex scandal, with accusations floating around that he used his position to force female worshipers into sexual activities. And what is irking many people is the fact that the Chinese government seems to want to keep the matter under wraps rather than let the public know about it.
Exposing the monk
The man accused of the grievous crime is Shi Xuecheng, the abbot of the famous Longquan Temple of Beijing. Interestingly, it was not the women who came forward with the accusation, but two fellow monks who have been serving in the Buddhist temple.
“So many faithful Buddhist women wanted to join the temple and I always voted yes. Little did I know I was sending them to the tiger’s mouth. The abbot’s learned image has crumbled in my mind. All that’s left is huge fear. He is evil in the Buddha’s robe,” one of the monks says in an interview with Fox8.
In addition to accusing the abbot of taking sexual advantage of women, the two young monks also claim to have submitted documents that implicate Xuecheng as being involved in embezzling temple funds. The country’s Administration of Religious Affairs department released a statement saying that it would investigate the matter once the authenticity of the documents has been verified.
However, since Xuecheng is well connected to the government, many believe that he may be able to utilize his network and shield himself from being exposed to the public. Unfortunately, this suspicion seems to be turning true.
The government’s censors are said to be working overtime, restricting all mention of the incident online. As a result, detailed reports about the scandal are said to be unavailable within China. Meanwhile, the abbot has come forward and declared himself innocent, claiming all accusations and documents against him are fake.
The #MeToo Movement in China
The #MeToo Movement, which aims to empower women to come forward and accuse their sexual abusers rather than hide away in shame, has also made an impact in China. But unlike the rest of the world, where the hashtag remains very active in social media, any sudden spike in the #MeToo hashtag will usually invite strict censorship from authorities in China.
Cases of molestation, which get popularized online, get quickly removed by Chinese censors. But this does not deter the many activists from trying to fight for women’s rights. They keep the hashtags live as long as they can by collaborating with one another.
“The only thing a victim can do is to publish accusations on the Internet to get them out into the court of public opinion, even if they don’t stay there for long,” a woman’s rights activist says in an interview with DW.
Several organizations aimed at women’s empowerment are also under serious investigation by China’s government. Many have been ordered to be shut down. Under such a repressive regime that is afraid of letting the public even know that an influential leader is under investigation for rape, activists fear that justice has little chance of being delivered in the Xuecheng case.
And the fact that the country cannot even provide a platform where women can accuse their abusers without the fear of being ridiculed just shows how morally bankrupt China’s government is.