When news of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s disappearance came through, you can’t help but be concerned about her welfare. Recent years have seen more and more women are speaking up about abuse more than ever before because the barriers preventing them to do so are slowly but surely coming down. This is mainly a result of high profile individuals in entertainment and sports facing the wrath of law. Today I am taking a closer look at this story that came from the part of the world were reliable information is not easy to come by. First of all let’s start with Peng’s background. Peng is a former world number one doubles player who went on Chinese social site Webo(their version of Facebook) to accuse former China Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. Although that is very courageous and inspiring, the method and place where it was done was ill advised.
Maybe the time spent on Tour made her oblivious to the fact that China is still a one party communist state. Yes there has been loosening of chains here and there in the last 50 years in terms of the economy when the Communist party favored a managed free market system. But all in all it is still a communist dictatorship. As such most Communist governments are overly protective of their leaders, they do not want their names driven through the mud(think Fidel Castro, think Kim Jong Un). Period, whether it is truth or not. So for her safety she should have sort a safe haven in another country before going public with this. She should have done what Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and seek refuge in a friendlier country. Now , a letter that is said to have been penned by Peng has surfaced , saying that she is safe and not missing and retracting the allegations against Mr Zhang. No one can verify it’s from her as the WTA couldn’t get into contact with her. Normally such cases are handled diplomatically by the respective embassies if one party was a foreigner.
As it involves only Chinese nationals, it is my view that WTA assume the diplomatic role here and put pressure on the Chinese government. Lastly, one issue that is interesting here is that Peng admits to having an extramarital affair with Zhang although at the time of the alleged assault they had gone their separate ways. The question is if they had relations previously and the guy invited Peng to his home and Peng came there, is it not possible to confuse each other intentions here? It is the age old question of rape and sexual assault, hypothetical example, if I invite you to my place and relations happen when( we both intoxicated, maybe) is it sexual assault? This happened in the the Mike Tyson rape case in 1993 in which he was ultimately convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington. Not to say Peng is at fault here, not at all. Zhang could have misconstrued Peng’s intentions when she accepted his invite. The fact that his wife was there in the wife is allegedly to have been at the house blows that defense right out of the water though. Like most people I hope for Peng’s safety and well being, no one deserves to suffer.