A 17-year-old female student has accused at least one Hong Kong police officer of sexual assault during her arrest at a protest last September.

The arrested person – known as “Student K” – told reporters on Monday that she was arrested on September 25 last year at Sha Tin MTR station under suspicion of unlawful assembly and assaulting a police officer. That night dozens had gathered at New Town Plaza after a man allegedly jumped the turnstiles and was detained by station staff.

(From left to right) Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union External Vice-President Cheung Chi-wai, union council member Jackie Chan, “Student K,” protest support group Stand With You founder Sonia Ng. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Student K claimed a female officer had squeezed her breasts several times and used derogatory language to “harass” her.

She alleged her requests to use the bathroom were repeatedly denied for more than an hour. She added she told an officer she had human rights but they rebuffed her, saying: “Human rights are based on your freedom. You are an arrested person so you do not enjoy that freedom.”

She claimed an officer had attempted to untie her hands but was stopped by colleagues. She also alleged a female officer had placed her head close to her chest and crotch during a strip search.

Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union council member Jackie Chen, who accompanied Student K to the press conference, said the nature of the strip search was unbelievable: “We, social workers, have not seen this extent of body searching even in cases to do with drug trafficking… Why would the police force search an underage girl in this way?”

Police later searched Student K’s home without the presence of her lawyer, according to the teenager: “I did not know what rights I was entitled to,” she said.

She claimed to have suffered from emotional distress and had attempted suicide three times despite feeling calm upon leaving the police station. She said she found it difficult to regain composure after the incident: “I felt like I was treated like an animal.”

She said she was later referred to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Photo: May James.

HKFP has reached out to the force for comment.

Student K said footage of the incident in Sha Tin had been circulated online and some of the comments were unsympathetic toward her experience: “Who would want to touch you,” a netizen reportedly wrote, in reference to her appearance.

Speakers at the press conference did not take any questions from reporters.

The teen’s case will be heard at Sha Tin Magistrates’ Court on July 21.

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.