back to article Alibaba to offer self-defense training in response to sexual assault allegation

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has published a letter sent to its 250,000-plus staff in which it explains its reaction to recent news of a harrowing sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a company manager – and the company's response includes self-defense training for staff. Titled "Alibaba to Strengthen Organizational …

  1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Self-defense training against sexual harassment in a corporate environment? Really?

    Having learned some self-defense might be quite handy if assaulted in the subway by a stranger.

    But, harassment in a corporate setting is (in many/most/all? cases) based on an inequality of power or status. It is seldom the male cleaner doing something unwanted to the female CEO.

    So, in addition to dealing with the actual sexual assalt, let's throw in a physical counter-assault with all the repercussions etc.

    Some ideas look better on paper than being thought about.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Self-defense training against sexual harassment in a corporate environment? Really?

      > So, in addition to dealing with the actual sexual assalt, let's throw in a physical counter-assault with all the repercussions etc.

      This may get the victim of the harassment into trouble, the harasser’s broken nose would be obvious, but the victim being groped wouldn’t be.

      1. martyn.hare

        Re: Self-defense training against sexual harassment in a corporate environment? Really?

        Sexual assault is not the same thing as sexual harassment. The former is a serious crime which should always be reported to the police whether self-defence is used or not; the latter is a civil problem which can and should be dealt with in a civil way (even if that means immediately firing the perpetrator) in most circumstances.

        In the case of self-defence, people will almost always be issued with personal alarms and legal defensive tools (like dye sprays) to go alongside the coaching on very basic combat techniques. When an assailant exits a stairwell looking like a Smurf or an Oompa-loompa, I’m fairly sure CCTV footage will be examined very closely and women everywhere will know to avoid said person.

  2. Plest Silver badge

    So the only answer is to teach people to give a bloody good kicking?!

    So violence is the answer? If someone makes a completely inappropriate remark or action, the answer is to kick them in the nads while in the company kitchen and walk off? FFS!

    How about upper management stop passing the buck to employees to defend themselves from scumbags who don't know that "no means no" and actually take responsibility for ensuring nasty, creepy office predators and alpha-male dickheads ( I know women can be arseholes too but it's usally we blokes with too much testorone! ) lose any shred of validty and career prospects to teach them to learn some respect for other human beings no matter their gender or ethnicity.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: So the only answer is to teach people to give a bloody good kicking?!

      Physical self defence has its place, everyone has the right to use appropriate force to protect themselves. Like it or not, sometimes it's just not possible to talk your way out of a situation. But the key is "appropriate" and that must be carefully weighed against the situation at hand. Which isn't always easy in what's often a split-second choice.

      Yes education is 100% the long term solution. Some people simply don't know their behaviour is wrong, and need to be taught. But that takes time, effort, persistence and reinforcement. And then there are those who simply don't care, and no amount of education can fix.

      So no, a swift kick in the bollocks is not an appropriate response to a tasteless remark in the office kitchen.

      But, faced with the immediate risk of sexual assault, it's absolutely justified given the alternative.

      What is also needed is awareness that support exists after the fact, complaints absolutely will be taken seriously and never brushed aside. Victims need to feel they can physically defend themselves, if they have to, and not have it used against them to make everything go away.

      Feeling like no one will help, no one will listen, and that taking defensive action will only make things worse, can only increase feelings of powerlessness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So the only answer is to teach people to give a bloody good kicking?!

        I am a strong believer that physically empowering people helps mentally empower them. Speaking from the point of view of a weekling.

        It's not a solution in its own right, but I support the fact that it is part of a wider approach.

  3. Robert Moore
    Gimp

    I can see it already

    Johnny Scumbag, Senior Manager, assaults Susan Victim, Lowly Secretary. Susan beats Johnny senseless, as per her training. Susan gets fired for assaulting her manager. Seems like that will work out well for Johnny. Other than the bruises. Maybe he is into that.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: I can see it already

      Which is why self defence training given must be backed up by HR, other senior management, and the independent investigation panel taking Susan Victim seriously, instead of always believing Johny Scumbag and brushing it all under the carpet.

      And the independent investigation panel really must be independent. Almost autonomous, and certainly free from management and executive interference. As long as the panel doesn't become corrupt. Who watches the watchers, etc.

    2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: I can see it already

      Or, playing devil's advocate, Johnny Scumbag compliments Susan Victim on her new hairdo, Susan decides that sexual harassment and beats Johnny up. Johnny gets fired because.

      Nah - that scenario will never happen .... hmmm

  4. gnasher729 Silver badge

    There was a case of sexual assault - I suppose you don’t need a company policy against sexual assault, just call the police, give them all the evidence you have, fire the criminal and self defence classes might actually help.

    Alibaba is a big company, and if you have enough employees, you will have some bad ones. And sexual assault (a serious crime) is unlikely to be stopped by a company policy.

    Company policies about sexual harassment _shouldnt_ be needed because nobody should commit sexual harassment anyway or allow it to happen. It _is_ needed to give offenders no chance to claim they didn’t know. And to give supervisors or HR no chance to brush things under the carpet. And to tell potential victims of their rights.

    So before complaining that they had no official policy, the question is whether sexual harassment happens and how it is handled in the company. Same if they had a policy; what counts is what really happens.

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