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Alibaba fires girl who claimed sexual attack

BEIJING, China: Highlighting the harassment faced by women in the workplace in China, Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba has fired a woman who said a colleague and a client sexually assaulted her.

The dismissal letter accused the employee of spreading falsehoods that damaged the company’s reputation.

The employee went public with her allegations in August because she said Alibaba had failed to take action.

The woman was then fired, and a criminal case against the Alibaba employee she accused was dropped.

The Alibaba client, however, is still thought to be under police investigation.

The employee told government-backed newspaper Dahe Daily that she was fired late last month.

The employee was quoted as saying, “I have not made any mistakes, and certainly will not accept this result, and in the future will use legal means to protect my rights and interests.”

The woman said her colleague, who held a more senior managerial position in the company, raped her in a hotel room while she was unconscious after a “drunken night”.

The woman also alleged that the colleague forced her to travel to the city of Jinan for a meeting with a client.

She accused her superiors of ordering her to drink alcohol with co-workers during dinner.

She said that on the evening of 27 July the client kissed her. She then recalled waking up in her hotel room the next day without her clothes on and with no memory of the night before.

After returning to Hangzhou, the woman said the incident was reported to Alibaba’s HR department and senior management, and that she had requested that the co-worker be fired.

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She said that human resources initially agreed to the request, but took no further action.

Alibaba has faced fierce public backlash, later firing the accused employee, identified only as Wang. The company said two executives who failed to act on the allegation also resigned.

Additionally, a memo was issued saying Alibaba was “staunchly opposed to forced drinking culture”.

Although Wang’s case will not progress through the courts, prosecutors have approved the arrest of the client, who allegedly assaulted the woman. He has been identified by his surname Zhang.

Zhang has also reportedly been fired by his company.

This latest development is likely to spark similar debates in China, which is grappling with its own #MeToo movement.