Nine people have been arrested in China following an assault on four women in the northern city of Tangshan on Friday, local police said in a statement on Saturday.
Graphic security footage showing scenes from the incident was posted on social media on Friday, sparking national outrage and sparking heated discussions online about security and women’s rights in China.
Time-stamped surveillance footage widely circulated online shows a man entering a barbecue restaurant around 2:40 a.m. local time on Friday and walking past a woman sitting and eating with her companions. The man is seen approaching one of the women and placing his hand on her back, before she grabs him by the wrist and pushes him away.
The woman can be heard questioning her, according to surveillance footage. Following the woman’s resistance, the man responds by slapping the woman in the face.
A fight between the two begins, surveillance footage shows. The woman tries to push him away by trying to hit him with a glass bottle.
Surveillance footage shows the woman’s friends trying to stop the fight and being beaten by the man as well as a group of other men rushing into the restaurant.
In the footage, several women can be seen being punched, kicked, grabbed and dragged by their hair on the ground.
The graphic video footage showing the battered women caused a national outcry over women’s safety. After the video was made public, Tangshan police released a statement on Friday afternoon saying they had identified the suspects and were looking for them.
In a separate statement on Friday, Tangshan police said two women were sent to hospital after being assaulted and are in stable condition, while two other women suffered minor injuries.
On Saturday, local police sent an update saying they had arrested the nine suspects, including seven men and their two girlfriends. The update said the two female victims who suffered non-life-threatening injuries were being treated in hospital and were in stable condition.
The incident was widely discussed on Chinese social media over the weekend and sparked public anger in the country. Some people online question the safety of women in China, while others discuss systemic violence against women in the country.
Provincial authorities have ordered that the criminal investigation into the case be transferred to Langfang, a separate city in Hebei province, according to a Langfang police statement late Saturday.
Such a move typically occurs when the investigation is sensitive or important, or when the cases involve gang-related crimes and need to avoid a local safe haven.