Vietnamese citizens were outraged after a court fined a man eight dollars for forcibly kissing a woman in an elevator, a rare public outburst in a country where sexual assault is seldom spoken about openly, according to AFP.
The #MeToo movement never took off in Vietnam, a conservative communist country where gender-based violence is widespread but remains a taboo topic.
But citizens took to social media this week after a man was fined 200,000 dong or $8.61 for forcibly kissing a woman in an elevator in her Hanoi apartment building.
CCTV footage showed the man chatting to the woman before cornering her and suddenly jumping on her before she scrambles out of the elevator as he grabbed her arm. The footage quickly went viral, stoking public anger.
“The fine…was a mockery and humiliation against the dignity of Vietnamese women,” said Facebook user Duong Dai Trieu Lam on Wednesday March 20th.
Office worker Nguyen Trang told AFP, "It's ridiculous, I can't accept this... I'm worried for my kids and myself."
Unlike rape, sexual assault is not a criminal offence in Vietnam but is considered an administrative violation falling under the category of "indecent speech and behaviour". The maximum fine for sexual assault is $13.
An online petition launched by activists calling for an amendment to the law gathered steam on Wednesday.
Sexual harassment is not routinely published in Vietnam, though 87% of women and girls experienced sexual harassment in public, according to a 2014 survey of 2,000 women by the NGO ActionAid.