Hong Kong riot police gained widespread criticism for allegedly “violating a woman’s dignity” after a female protester was exposed from the waist down as she was being arrested Sunday evening.
Residents and protesters have since condemned the arrest which happened during a standoff between protesters and police in Tin Shui Wai.
Police officers were trying to detain the woman near Tin Yiu Plaza when her skirt was pulled up and her underwear was supposedly stripped off, according to Asia Times
Many have questioned why the police did not at least cover up the woman before they carried her off to the station. In the viral images that emerged online, the defenseless woman can be seen being surrounded, carried away, and arrested by over six police officers.
At 4:45 a.m., Hong Kong Police spokesperson Yu Hoi Kwan (余鎧均) held a press conference to address the controversy, claiming that the skirt was accidentally torn off because the protester refused to be arrested and struggled. She said the female protester was arrested for assaulting a police officer, reports the Hong Kong Free Press
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“During the process, she did not cooperate. We found three female officers to subdue her. But because she struggled and did not cooperate, two more male officers came to subdue her,” Yu was quoted as saying. “Because she was wearing a dress and because she struggled, that was maybe why you saw what was shown in the video.”
In her post, she noted how a number of male police officers had sworn at her in Cantonese while she shouted for “my skirt” and “female police.”
According to the young woman, she “did not even shed a tear” during the ordeal and calmly exercised her right to silence after being arrested. She further explained that while the incident can become “an indecent scene” on the news, she does not mind her footage being known to the public if it could make more others aware of excessive police force.
The Tin Shui Wai girl further stated that it was more distressing and heartbreaking for her to see “brothers and sisters” bleeding on the front lines and “martyrs” committing suicide to protest against Hong Kong’s extradition bill and police violence.
The community also used the forum to express that they intend to bring the alleged case of police misconduct to international attention by writing to Emma Watson
, a goodwill ambassador for women’s rights at the United Nations.
While lawyers were able to bail out the arrested female protester by Monday morning, enraged demonstrators surrounded the Tin Shui Wai Police Station to protest the woman’s treatment, Taiwan News
However, the protesters were met by officers in riot gear who immediately dispersed them. As officers began subduing dozens of protesters, some fought back by throwing rocks at police. At around 2:40 p.m., the police began firing several canisters of tear gas towards the protesters after warning them three times.