Forget umbrellas: The newest symbol of protest in Hong Kong is the bra.
That’s what dozens of angry citizens wore Sunday in a demonstration against what they say is an absurd and sexist ruling: The sentencing of a female protester to three and a half months in prison for “assaulting a police officer” with her breast.
Ng La-ying’s chest bumped the right arm of policeman Chan Ka-Po during a crowded protest against mainland Chinese border traders in March.
Amateur footage from the chaotic incident cited by local news reports shows the 30-year-old woman falling to the ground during an interaction with police officers. It’s unclear what happens next, but when she reemerges her face is bleeding.
During her trial, Ng pleaded not guilty, saying she cried “indecent assault” when the police officer’s hand landed on her breast, according to the South China Morning Post.
But a local magistrate rejected the claim and accused her of lying.
“You used your female identity to trump up the allegation that the officer had molested you. This is a malicious act,” said deputy magistrate Chan Pik-kiu, adding Ng had harmed the officer’s reputation with her accusation.
Protesters who gathered outside the Wan Chai Police Headquarters in downtown Hong Kong chanted “breasts are not weapons” and said the ruling against Ng was ludicrous.
“I believe we are all baffled as to how a breast attack works,” said Ng Chuek Ling, a 24-year-old activist with the Hong Kong Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities.
“It’s ridiculous and alarming that the judge didn’t just convict the protester of assaulting police with her breast, but that her seeking help was also considered part of the assault,” she told CNN. “Should we silence ourselves in the face of sexual violence?”
“If this sets a precedent, the police will not only abuse their power but also strip women of their rights to take part in protests. Sexual harassment becomes a tactic for police suppression.”
Pro-democracy legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung said the sentence was an “insult to all the women on this earth.”
“Breasts are the origins of human beings; no one can survive without the breasts of their mothers,” he told CNN.
“I think if anyone on this earth treats the breasts of women as a weapon, it’s totally outrageous.”