Participants attired in black put on purple ribbons and wrote #Protesttoo on their arms with lipstick to show solidarity with the victims. Photo: RTHK

More than 30,000 protesters gathered in Hong Kong on Wednesday night to condemn the police for what they claimed was sexual violence against women involved in the demonstrations that have rocked the former British territory.

The large crowd gathered at Central in Hong Kong to condemn the city’s law enforcement for allegedly using excessive force on female protesters, which they said was the equivalent of sexual violence.

At 8pm on Wednesday, more than 30,000 people joined the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women – a group similar to the #MeToo movement – in Chater Garden to denounce the use of sexual violence by Hong Kong police officers while subduing or arresting women in the past two-months-long anti-extradition bill protests, the Apple Daily reported.

Participants wore black clothes with purple ribbons and wrote #Protesttoo on their arms with lipstick to show solidarity with the victims.

One woman, surnamed Lui, recalled her traumatic experience when two female police officers conducted an unnecessary, glove-less naked body search after an earlier protest. Lui spoke of her ordeal on Wednesday night.

She said that since being detained, she had been restless at night and was often angry and in tears. A senior police superintendent, a female, defended the use of full-body searches and called it a necessary measure in a media briefing on the same day, Lui said.

Meanwhile, an audio recording made by a female protester and played at the protest may also indicate that the use of sexual violence was not an isolated case. The woman said that while she was waiting for a court hearing in a police station, she was forced to undergo a naked body search by two female officers inside a detention cell, where there was zero privacy with no partitions, meaning that anyone – male officers included – who passed by could see her naked.

In another incident at an earlier protest, a female protester’s underpants fell off while she was being carried away by officers, who were accused of deliberately doing nothing to rectify the situation as she was exposed to cameras and the crowd at Tin Shui Wai on August 5.

The woman spoke from the stage on Wednesday night and said she had been shouting at the officers to allow her to adjust her dress or to walk by herself. However, her pleas fell on deaf ears and she felt she had been lifted even higher and exposed more after her pleas.

According to Wednesday night’s protest organizer, a total of 46 victims – 41 women and five men – sought help from the association after claiming their rights had been violated and they suffered sexual harassment or humiliation during the anti-extradition bill protests.

Some victims claimed their private parts were touched or they faced threats of sexual assaults as well as verbal sexual harassment. There is alleged to be 23 abusive cases involving police officers, 18 involving pro-government supporters and four involving protesters.

Wednesday night’s rally ended peacefully at 10:30pm, with protesters chanting: “Hongkongers, see you in Chater Garden on August 31,” a reference to a protest being organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, which was rejected by police Thursday morning, the city’s public broadcaster RTHK reported.

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