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China Daily Website

6 suspected of sexual assault at festival detained

Updated: 2012-08-24 19:59
( Xinhua)

HAIKOU - Police detained six suspects on Friday, after an allegation of sexual assault at a water festival in a county of southern China's island province of Hainan.

A statement from the Public Security Bureau at Baoting Li and Miao autonomous county said the six suspects are all aged around 20. It only gave one's surname as Zhuo.

Police are hunting more suspects involved in the alleged assault, it said.

The incident was first reported by internet users, who reposted in forums and on websites a picture of a woman in her 20s, soaked and topless, weeping in the arms of a young man at the water event. Her face looked in fear and in pain.

Early media reports said several men tried to touch several women's breasts and tear their clothes off when more than 1,000 participants were splashing water towards each other for blessings at the outdoor event in Baoting.

Bloggers at Sina Weibo, a popular tweeter-like microblogging website, said more than 10 women were stripped and pinned down to the ground by dozens of "obviously overexcited" men at the carnival, quoting self-claimed witnesses.

But officers with Baoting Public Security Bureau said the number of alleged attackers and victims had been exaggerated. It said only one woman had so far reported the assault.

Criticisms were triggered after what is officially dubbed "an important platform for cultural exchange" descended into a crime scene. Media and bloggers have been accusing the attackers of committing a crime in the name of revelry. One commentary blamed the "outrageous incident" on "the collective and excessive emotion outlets."

Although it is not clear whether the water festival will be staged next year after the alleged incident, some Chinese have been expressing their reluctance to participate.

Blogger Aise Queen said she will never participate in the festival if she goes to Hainan, the tropical island which is striving to become an international tourism destination by 2020. "I need to learn self-defense," she said. "I would have kicked whoever touched or even glanced at me if I were in that festival.