Beijing: Several women were stripped and sexually assaulted during festivities to mark a local water festival in China's island province of Hainan, coinciding with the Chinese Valentine Day.
    
The festival, held yesterday at the Qixian Square, Baoting Li and Miao autonomous county, attended by several tourists turned into a nightmare for women as some men went baresark and tore down the clothes of the ladies and sexually assaulted them, official media here reported today.
    
Several newspapers here carried pictures of women in distress being rescued by their friends. Reports said police personnel who rushed to the scene detained several men.
    
Li Min, a tourist from Wanning in Hainan who has participated in the festival for the past five years, said four or five women were assaulted after an opening ceremony, and the attackers were taken away by police.
    
"There were more than 1,000 people on the square playing with water at that time, and most of them were very young," he told state-run China Daily.
    
"I saw a man take off a young woman's clothes, while similar attempts were made on four or five other women who were playing with water in different areas of the square at the same time," he said.
    
"Later, police came to restore order, took the men out of the square," Li said.
    
Huang Dingyi, from Hainan's capital Haikou, who also witnessed the incident, said he saw a woman being molested by a man wearing a hat and a red scarf.
    
"The woman slipped when she was attacked by the man and she hit the attacker with a water pot. Police rushed to stop the disorder from a house on the square and seized the man, who was in his 20s," he said.
    
Wang Xiumei, head of the county's publicity department of the province, said the security bureau has been investigating the case and trying to determine how many women were attacked.
    
"We are paying attention to the case and will disclose the number and newest information as soon as possible," she told the Daily.
    
Chinese all over the country celebrated the Chinese Valentine Day on Thursday. The Day is celebrated on seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar designated as China's traditional day for lovers.
    
Li and Miao ethnic groups offer water sacrifices during which locals organise a festival to attract tourists and residents to play with water.

(Agencies)

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