Child rape isn’t rape?
Recently, a sex case, involving a principal and a government official sleeping with primary school girls, is sparking outrage in China.
The story began on May 8.
“Six girls from Grade 6 of Houn Lang Primary in Wanning City, Hainan Province were collectively missing, causing extreme panic among teachers and parents,” reported The Beijing News.
“…four were found on 9th, and other two were found on 10th. After investigation, police arrested a school principal and a government employee,” reported Free More News.
“…they had been taken to hotel rooms by two men, one of them the principal at their elementary school, the other a public official,” reported China Daily.
“When the students were found, they seemed dazed, some girls have bruise on hand and neck. Doctors found lower body injury on all six girls and their hymens had been ruptured,” reported Free More News.
When police in Hainan province arrested the two men on charges of sexually assaulting minors, we believed this was an open-and-shut case. However, the incident took a bizarre twist on May 14.
“The examinations, conducted by…concluded that the girls' hymens were still intact,” reported Xinhua.
The incident made TV news and was posted on the Internet not long after, triggering a national outcry in China and quickly became a hot topic. But a curious thing about all this: authorities seem to acknowledge impropriety —“ opened a hotel room with 6 primary school girls”, after all — but no one is calling it rape.
“Later, the press unanimously changed its stories to report the men only took the girls to hotel rooms and did not have sexual relations with them,” reports International Business Times. “The stories avoided the word ‘rape.’ The principal has been fired by the school, and the girls are undergoing one-on-one therapy to help them cope with the incident.”
This has set off a fresh round of debate about the case itself and whether China's laws on rape are fit for purpose. It will be interesting to see how this case will be addressed, since the girls are clearly under 14, but with mainstream media aligned in denying sexual relations in this particular incident and avoiding the word “rape” altogether, netizens are as usual taking to Weibo, their only outlet, to express outrage and disbelief. They are calling for the repeal of the 1997 law.
Having sex with anyone under the age of 14 was considered rape in China, consent or not, but the law was changed in 1997. Under this new law, with consent, even if a girl is under 14, the perpetrator may be allowed to go free as long as he claims not to know the girl is under 14.
This is in sharp