Alibaba Suspends Executives After Rape Accusation
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group said on Sunday it had suspended several executives after an employee accused her boss of raping her while on a work trip.
The suspension came hours after one of her employees posted an essay on the company’s intranet service in which she said her boss raped her while she was unconscious after a “night of drunkenness. “entertaining customers on July 27 in the eastern city of Jinan.
Her essay, which was released online, was shared widely on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China. More than 4,000 employees have also formed a #MeToo group on the company’s intranet condemning its boss.
In her essay, the employee said she had reported the incident to Alibaba, but was told that the company had decided not to fire her boss “because they were taking my reputation into account.” She said she was pulled from a corporate focus group after publishing her accusations.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Alibaba said several executives had been suspended for their handling of the case.
“Alibaba Group has a zero tolerance policy against sexual misconduct, and ensuring a safe workplace for all of our employees is Alibaba’s top priority,” she said.
“We have suspended relevant parties suspected of violating our policies and values, and we have established a special internal task force to investigate the issue and support the ongoing police investigation.”
After filing a police report, the woman said she viewed video footage outside her hotel room, which showed her boss entering her room four times. She accused him in the attempt of having duplicated his key to enter. She said she woke up naked on the morning of July 28 and found a box of condoms in her bedroom.
In a statement released on Sunday, Jinan police said they were “actively investigating the evidence” and would inform the public of their findings as soon as possible.
In a message posted on Alibaba’s intranet, the company’s chief executive, Daniel Zhang, said he was “shocked, angry and ashamed” of the incident. He said the supervisors involved owed the employee an apology for “not dealing with him quickly,” according to a screenshot of the post viewed by The New York Times.
“It is not just an isolated event,” Mr. Zhang wrote. “From me, the managers, the human resources, each of us at Ali must be deeply moved by this, think and act.
Alibaba had previously been accused of failing to tackle gender discrimination. In 2018, Human Rights Watch, a New York-based non-governmental organization, said that Alibaba, along with Chinese tech companies Baidu and Tencent, had repeatedly posted recruitment ads touting “beautiful girls” working for businesses.
Elsie Chen contributed research.
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