A recent Hong Kong court decision has astounded and enraged some local citizens—a 30-year-old woman was sentenced to jail time for “assaulting” a police officer with her breast during a scuffle at a protest against mainland Chinese traders.
Hong Kong residents have responded with demonstrations and by sharing mostly demure, fully-clothed photos of their own “weapons” online:
As well as cartoons:
Minion references, and other pop-cultures jokes:
(The hashtag, #反對女性胸部被視為攻擊性武器, can be translated as “In opposition to the female breast being considered an offensive weapon.”)
Ng Lai-ying, 30, who works at a shipping company, was convicted of assaulting a male police officer with her breast during a protest earlier this year, and sentenced to 3 ½ months in jail on Thursday (July 30). Ng used her chest to bump against the right arm of a police chief inspector in a protest on March 1 at Yuen Long, a shopping district near Hong Kong’s border with Shenzhen, a magistrate ruled.
Videos from local media show Ng being arrested by police at the scene, and with blood running down her face after she fell down to the ground. Her nose was fractured, her lawyers said.
The magistrate told the court that Ng’s case was serious, because she accused the police officer of “indecent assault,” which led other protesters to throw objects (link in Chinese) at the police officers. Ng told the court that she yelled “indecent assault” because the police officer reached for the strap of her bag, touching the upper part of her left breast.
Dozens of Ng’s supporters flooded into the courtroom this week and others demonstrated outside during a mitigation session on July 29, when Ng’s lawyer said she insisted her innocence and chose to “retain her integrity rather than lie … in exchange for a lighter sentence.” Around 200 protested at Hong Kong’s High Court on July 26, holding placards reading “A breast is NOT a weapon!” and “The rule of law is dead.”
The protest Ng was participating in, the so-called “Recover Yuen Long” protest is one of a series of demonstrations against mainland Chinese shoppers who buy tax-free goods in Hong Kong, then resell them back on the mainland for profit. These “parallel traders,” as they are known, have disturbed the lives of the local residents, stirring anti-mainlander sentiment in the city, as Quartz has reported earlier.
The decision has also raised new questions about whether Hong Kong’s vaunted “rule of law” is being gradually eroded, as Beijing exerts more control over the semi-autonomous city. “As a matter of common sense, it seems improbable that someone who intended to attack another person would use her breast to do so….On the present information, it is difficult not to doubt the decision,” a group of local lawyers wrote about the case July 31.
“We think that in Hong Kong, the legal system in Hong Kong, is trying to cooperate with the executive system, that’s it. We have to stop this phenomenon, we have to stop this kind of Communist party rule,” Edward Leung, member of a localist group, told digital publication Hong Kong Free Press at the protest scene.
During the pro-democracy protests, the city’s once-admired police were shamed as a video shows seven “black cops” brutally beat a protestor in a dark corner. And some accused police of not protecting protesters from the attacks of their pro-Beijing opponents. With the “breast assault” ruling, the mistrust has spread from the executive to the judiciary.