Child Sexual Abuse
Q1. Li Xingong，a former senior official in Yongcheng, Henan Province, was executed last week for raping 11 underage girls. Did justice prevail through the execution?
A1. We believe justice did prevail through this trial and execution. Li Xingong’s case was heard by the Shangqiu City Intermediate People’s court, his appeal considered by the Provincial Higher People’s Court, and the final outcome determined by the Supreme People’s Court. All courts were in agreement as to the verdict of this case. The evidence showed that Li Xingong raped 11 underage girls and the youngest victim may have been as young as 12 years old. Justice has clearly prevailed in this case.
Q2. In Wanning, Hainan Province, an elementary school principal and a government employee were indicted by a local court for allegedly having sexually assaulted six schoolgirls aged between 11 and 14. If they are convicted of raping these underage girls, should death penalty be imposed in this case?
A2. Recently, the Supreme People’s Court has ordered lower level courts to adhere to a “minimum tolerance and maximum protection” stance in regards to child molestation cases. The Chinese public is coming forward and demanding more protection for minors. It is highly disturbing, that cases, such as this, involve individuals who represent leading roles within the government and within education. As of the most recent trials (provincial intermediate people’s court), the school principal (Chen Zaipeng) to 13.5 ears and the government official (Feng Xiaoson) to 11.5 years. If you compare this case to that of Li Xingong, the death penalty could also be imposed. However, ultimately, this a decision for the Supreme People’s Court.
Q3. At least eight cases of sexual abuse by school teachers or employees against young girls have come to light over the past month and a half from different parts of the Chinese mainland. Some victims were as young as eight. What happened? Is there anything wrong with our society?
A3. Society, schools, and parents put trust and confidence in the teachers and employees who are charged with caring for their children. However, according to the news there existed a lack of background checks and a lack of employee awareness within a number of these schools. Society needs to be able to trust the leaders and workers within the educational system, they need to know that there are checks and balances in place to monitor teachers, principals and any employees in authoritative roles over children. It is the result of outrage and indignation from society that these stories are coming to light. This indignation is a good sign that the Chinese society is unwilling to tolerate this behavior and will fight for the rights of children.
Q4. Child sexual abuse exists across all human societies. It is not unique in China. But to have so many cases in such a short period of time, and the culprits are school teachers, headmasters, and public officials---if this happened in countries such as the US and France, what could be the consequences? Would it lead to serious political repercussions? For instance, would minister of education step down as a result?
A4. Scandals of child sexual abuse will undoubtedly have severe consequences, political repercussions, and sever societal outrage. Last year in the United States, a California elementary school, part of the United States second largest school district, shocked the public with just such a scandal. A school teacher was accused of abusing 23 students. The entire school district is under investigation and an integral part of the trial as this is the result of not just one teacher, but also the educational system that monitors and supervises all teachers in the district.
Q5. These cases remind us of the BBC’s Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal. The police stated that the total number of alleged victims was 589, of who 450 alleged abuse by the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile. How about China’s current situation?
A5. This scandal truly was of an unprecedented scale and for reasons that are important to what China is facing now. During the time that these offenses were occurring, children were unable to speak about what happened to them, either they were unable to explain, too shy or embarrassed, or simply had no safe environment to discuss the abuse that they suffered. While initial police reports of Savile date back to 1958, it wasn’t until a year after the death, that victims felt they were able to come forward. The freedom and ability a child has to talk about what has happened is a key issue in battling child molestation. One of Jimmy Savile’s victims said, “But you didn’t talk about those things then.” I think China is in a very similar situation now.
Q6. So is it just coincidence that these cases happened one after another in the past month and a half? Or rather, they are a tip of the iceberg?
A6. These cases have come to light, not by coincidence, but because of the increased ability of the public to communicate their outrage and discover information about such scandals. Netizens are able to discover more information, share more information, and create a larger uprising in outrage than ever before. Child molestation cases are as scandalous as the advocates of the victimized children are enthusiastic. More scandals may arise, as society sees the importance of increased child protection and reporting abuse. This is only the first step to improving the system that incorporates schools, parents, government agencies, and all of society to work together to protect children from abuse.
Q7. Who should be held responsible other than the perpetrators then, the government, the judicial system, schools, or parents?
A7. Families, schools, society and judicial system should all be responsible since they all have the obligation to protect children under the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors.
Q8. In response to the recent spate of sex abuse cases, the public held an online campaign by photographing themselves — some nude and provocatively posed, some angry and menacing — with the message: “Principal, get a room with me. Leave the young students alone.” Indeed, many people are wondering: what is going on in these pedophiles’ minds? They know this is evil. They know this is against the law. Why did they do this?
A8. Being a normal person, we could hardly understand the mind of the pedophile. It is a kind of illness. It may mainly due to abnormal psychology development in their childhood. They may be interested in pursuing excitement, thus they chase underage children to get themselves excited.
Q9. Some countries including Poland and the Republic of Korea have passed the law to chemically castrate convicted child rapists. Is it a good idea for China to adopt a similar law?
According to Chinese Criminal Law:
A9. Article 236. Whoever, by violence, coercion or other means, rapes a woman is to be sentenced to not less than three years and not more than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment.
Whoever has sexual relations with a girl under the age of 14 is to be deemed to have committed rape and is to be given a heavier punishment.
Whoever rapes a woman or has sexual relations with a girl involving one of the following circumstances is to be sentenced to not less than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment, life imprisonment, or death:
(1) rape a woman or have sexual relations with a girl and when the circumstances are odious;
(2) rape several women or have sexual relations with several girls;
(3) rape a woman in a public place and in the public;
(4) rape a woman in turn with another or more persons;
(5) cause the victim serious injury, death, or other serious consequences.
Article 237. Whoever, by violence, coercion or other means, forces, molests, or humiliates a woman is to be sentenced to not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention. Whoever assembles a crowd to commit the crimes described in the preceding paragraph, or commits such crimes in the public is to be sentenced to not less than five years of fixed-term imprisonment. Whoever molests a child is to be given a heavier punishment according to the stipulations in the two preceding paragraphs.
The punishment in China regarding the criminal of child sexual abuse is already up to death penalty, although its application is extremely limited. There is no need to adopt the castrate penalty into Chinese legal system, but the penalty in normal cases indeed needs to be harsher.
Q10. The recent cases also spurred a new round of debate regarding China’s controversial “prostitution with a girl under 14” law, which many believe lets rapists and pedophiles off easy. Could you explain to our viewers who are not familiar with China’s law why many people believe the “prostitution with a girl under 14” law is inadequate and could compromise children’s rights?
A10. According to Chinese Criminal Law:
Article 358. Those organizing others for or forcing others into prostitution are to be sentenced to five to 10 years in prison in addition to having to pay a fine. Those falling in one or more of the following cases are to be sentenced to 10 years or more in prison or given a life sentence, in addition to a fine or confiscation of property:
(1) Those committing serious crimes of organizing others for prostitution;
(2) those forcing young girls under the age of 14 into prostitution;
(3) those forcing more than one person into prostitution and those repeatedly forcing others into prostitution;
(4) those forcing others who were raped by them into prostitution;
(5) those causing severe injuries, death, or other serious consequences to those who are forced into prostitution.
Those committing one or more of the above crimes, if the case is especially serious, are to be given a life sentence or sentenced to death, in addition to confiscation of property.
Those helping others organize people for prostitution are to be sentenced to five years or fewer in prison in addition to a fine. If the case is serious, they are to be sentenced to five to 10 years in prison in addition to being fined.
Article 359. Those harboring prostitution or seducing or introducing others into prostitution are to be sentenced to five years or fewer in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance, in addition to paying a fine. If the case is serious, they are to be sentenced to five years or more in prison in addition to a fine. Those seducing young girls under 14 years of age into prostitution are to be sentenced to five years or more in prison in addition to a fine.
It is hard to tell organizing from forcing or seducing when dealing with specific action. Thus, it is difficult to judge a criminal and apply Article 358 and 359. Comparing with Article 358 and Article 359, the statutory sentences in Article 359 is quite light. The rapists and pedophiles could easily defend themselves at least by applying Article 359 to escape from harsh penalties.
Q11. In most countries, sex with someone underage is considered rape with or without consent, with the understanding that a child is not capable of legally giving consent. Should we apply the same principle in our law to protect children?
A11. According to current Chinese Law, the regulation principle is the same with that in most countries. Sex with underage is considered rape with or without consent. No matter what method of rape is used.
Q12. Some social activists believe the biggest challenge today was that mainland children live in an unprotected environment, in which parents and schools fail to educate them about potential sexual abuse. How important is it to educate children about the awareness of their rights and powers?
A12. It is very important to educate children about the awareness of their rights. In most of Chinese elementary school, there are many Ideological and Moral Cultivation Courses, but less courses to teach children on utilizing their rights to protect themselves according to laws and regulations. Minors, especially underage girls are too naïve to realize they are being infringed by others unless they know what kind of actions could be convicted as infringements or crimes beforehand.
Q13. In traditional Chinese culture, sex is base and ugly. People don’t talk about sex and there’s hardly any sex education at school. In this environment, is it easy to teach children to protect themselves from sexual abuse？What should and can be done to improve sex education among children?
A13. Sure it is not easy, but things have changed gradually. The young parents are more open-minded. More books teaching parents the proper way to give sex education. Sometimes the parents are willing to tell, but they do not know how.
Q14. The thing is, do Chinese parents feel comfortable having their children accept sex education at such an early age? Some may see this as a cause for the death of innocent childhood?
A14. The true situation is that it is not about the parents’ comfort any more. Children can get this information on the internet any time. The parents have to make themselves comfortable to give children sex education, otherwise they will leave the children alone to choose what kind of information is right and useful.
Q15. What about rural areas where conservatism is deeper and more pervasive?
A15. We should count on schools and teachers then. If parents are ashamed of giving children sex education, the teachers are the ones we should count on. They have the knowledge and they have been trained. They know the proper and scientific way to give children this kind of knowledge. The problem is the current education system does not value the importance of sex education. We have the books in junior high, but the schools normally cancil the class teaching them. Now there have been some improvements that the girls and boys are seperated to take the course.
Q16. Child sexual abuse could cast a shadow on victims for their whole life. It was reported that victims in China and their families lack counselling and somewhere to go to find help. Even worse, some victims and their families find themselves being discriminated and alienated by their neighbors and other acquaintances. How shall we help these victims so that they won’t be haunted by the trauma for the rest of their life?
A16. Yes, the situation is quite true. I think the most efficient way to provide help to those victims is to set up special organization for them funded by the government or social charity. We do not have this kind of institution here in China and we do not encourage victims to seek help from outside. We should use media or education to encourage the sex abuse victims to seek help from cummunity or society and to change people’s attitude towards sex abuse victims.
Q17. Shall we count on local governments to at least do something about it?
A17. We sure should, but we did not get any. As far as I know, the local government did not pay much attetnion on this issue. The fist reason sure is lack of funds, but the most important reason is that people do not know much about the serious results the ignorance can cause. The local government shall be the one responsible for establishing the prevention mecahnism from children sex abuse and the recovary mechanism.
Q18. Shall we open up discussion about child sex abuse?
A18. By making “child sex abuse” part of our education can draw people’s attention on this issue and eventually the ways of preventing sex abuse from happening and also the ways of recovering from the trauma. Becoming familiar with this topic, victims are not ashamed of what has happened to them and people will be more sympathy.
Q19. Are there any new governmental protections for child sexual abuse?
A19. A Notice issued by Ministry of Civil Affairs of PRC on Pilot Program in Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, Henan Province and Guangdong Province.
The children who are in need of relief will be categorize differently as Orphans, Children in Difficult Situation, Children from Difficult Families and Normal Children and furthermore the Children in Difficult Situation will be categorized under disabled children, children with serious illness, waifs etc. Different kinds of children will be given different kinds of care. The notice was issued on 19th June. It is hard to predict the results since now the government does not disclose its account books for this. People do not know how much money is put in and how much money is actually spent on those children.
Q20. List of the published famous cases in China:
A20. Case one: Teacher Bao acted indecently towards his students and seduced them for score of times.
Facts of the case
Defendant: Mr. Bao, who was born on April 3, 1966, Junior College, serving as a junior school teacher
In September of 2010, Mr. Bao deceived his girl students with excuses of tutoring study, doing cleaning works, playing table tennis, let the girls get into the equipment room, office room, and the printing room of the school, touched their chest, bosom and privates and seduced them for scores of times. He forced the girls to see salacious pictures and movies, and he recorded videos while seducing the girls. Most of the girls are at age of 9 or 10. Totally there are seven victims. Mr. Bao’s illegal actions lasted for 2 years.
The panel thought that Mr. Bao constituted the crime of rape. He was sentenced to death according to his extremely odious conducts.
Case No. 2: The step mother beats, scolds and tortures the step daughter to death
Defendant: Li Yanqi, Female, Birthday: April 5, 1983, Junior Middle School, Individual Household.
In September of 2010, Li Yanqin and Shen Ergang have separately divorced and began to live together as couples. Li Yanqin’s own son is called Shen Yantong, Shen Ergang’s daughter is called Shen Xiaoran. They were all living together. Li Yanqin always pinch, tweak, kick and burn Shen Xiaoran and asserted that Shen Xiaoran does not do the homework or rebelled her. During that period, Shen Xiaoran’s head, face, neck, chest, arms, legs and other parts of body are always injured seriously. On March 27, 2012, when Shen Ergang was on business trip, Li Yanqin took those two children to Shan Xi province, rent a apartment and lived there. On April 29, 2012, Li Yanqin beat Shen Xiaoran again for trivial matters, and hurt Shen Xiaoran’s belly for several times. On May 4, 2012, Shen Xiaoran began to vomit things. Li Yanqin though she was suffering heatstroke and bought pills for her to stop disgorging. On June 17, 2012, Li Yanqin locked two children in the room and went out. When she came back, she found Shen Xiaoran’s cold body under the bed. Shen Xiaoran died from intestines broken because of violence.
The panel thought that Li Yanqin constituted the crime of willful and malicious injury. Li Yanqin was given death sentence with a two year reprieve.
Case No. 3: Deng Jiawen organized minors to participate in violations of security administration activities, instigated minors to do burglary.
From August of 2010 to February of 2011, Deng Jiawen provides hotel rooms, foods and entertainment materials in Guang Dong province to minors and instigated them to do burglary for several times. The stolen goods include cash, cell phones, digital cameras, bracelet, cigarettes, Rolex watch, alcoholic drink, tea and computer. Deng Jiawen also organized minors to do racketeering.
Since Deng Jiawen was a minor when he constituting crimes, he was sentenced to seven years and six months fix term imprisonment and fined RMB 4,000.