An reader, who has asked to remain anonymous, sent me a recent story about a stalker in her workplace in Shanghai.
I didn’t really think about sexual assault for the longest time in China, even though as a woman, it was something we always talked about back home in my Western country. Things often seemed different, even safer, over here. But now I realize I was a little naive, especially after what my coworker told me.
We work at a large company in Shanghai. Most of us are women, the majority Chinese, with a few foreigners like me. And some of us have to work evenings. I do too at times but the night never worried me.
But last week, my Chinese coworker came over to me and said, “Did you hear about the stalker at work?”
I was so shocked she used the words “stalker” and “work” in the same sentence. I mean, this is our office. It had felt so comfortable and friendly most days. And people had to swipe a card to get inside. So how could this be?
She said that the guy is from Shanghai and actually used to work for our company. He got a swipecard from a former employee and then hung out around the building during evenings, when bosses are gone but the evening workers (usually women) are still around. He had swiped his way into our department to harass some of the women. She said he had come to harass women more than once.
My coworker didn’t elaborate on what “harass” exactly meant in, but I could tell from the look on her face that it wasn’t anything good.
But it got worse the other night. The guy followed my coworker all the way to her apartment building. I don’t know if he saw her exact apartment or what, but it was chilling enough to know the creep trailed her.
The news has rattled me a bit. I’ve often bicycled home late at night after getting off at work, and would always say how safe it is because there are so many people out on the streets. Now I’m not so sure.
My coworker said she doesn’t want to work in the evening anymore. And I’m asking myself, should I do the same too?