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Liu Yan

Bridal bath

Liu Yan w

Raised in Guangzhou, Liu Yan got her start in the entertainment business when she won a city beauty pageant. After a series of small roles in television, she became a household name after appearing in a reality TV talent show.

Why is she famous?

Liu’s overt use of sex appeal (often appearing in low-cut, tight-fitting dresses) has won her legions of fans. In an interview with Southern Weekend, the actress-cum-TV show hostess made no apology for flaunting her looks: “I told my agent before, just because I wear sexy clothing doesn’t mean I’m a person with loose morals. People need to learn to accept that.”

Why is she in the news?

Liu was recently the maid of honour at the wedding of actress Bao Wenjing and actor Bao Bei’er in Bali. During the event, which involved a series of games and pranks involving the bride and groom, the groomsmen wanted to throw her into the swimming pool. Caught by surprise, she started screaming in terror. It wasn’t until another bridesmaid intervened that the men stopped mucking around.

A video of the incident appeared online, with many netizens accusing the groomsmen of sexual harassment. “Even children know that it is not acceptable to use violence against women. These men should know better than to think that it is no big deal to disrespect women,” one angry netizen wrote.

“Watching the video makes me very scared: a girl can be thrown into the water involuntarily by a group of men all in the name of fun,” another female fumed.

Upon returning home, Liu issued a video statement in which she apologised for “causing trouble” to the Bao couple and sought to downplay what had happened. The groom also posted an apology on his weibo, saying that there was no malicious intention on anyone’s part. Their respective regrets only fanned the furore among netizens, with many saying that it was further evidence of victimisation of women and that Bao was being insincere in his apology.

Has the whole incident been blown out of proportion?

Raymond Zhou, a China Daily columnist, notes that it is customary at Chinese weddings for friends of the newly weds to play games and pranks. He also says of the Liu incident: “There’s little cause for raising it to the level of sexual harassment. The participants are close friends, and a little horseplay on this occasion seemed within bounds.”

However, Zhou adds that it points to a broader issue at Chinese weddings where the line in such ‘games’ can blur between appropriate fun, humiliation and unchecked libido. He cites a 2014 survey by China Youth Daily that found that 80% of bridesmaids have complained that the best man or another male had groped or sexually pestered them during nuptial games. If nothing else, Liu’s case has renewed awareness of the problem.

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