Chinese Rape Law Should Protect Men As Well: Experts

March 31, 2015
Editor: Kiki Liu

Chinese law experts reaffirm the need for men to be protected from rape given that women are not the only victims of such crime in China, as China plans to amend its Criminal Law to reflect such.

Rape Against Men: A Legal Shortcoming

Back in 2011, a 42-year-old man was sued for raping his 18-year-old male colleague in Beijing, but was sentenced to 1 year in what was deemed to be, from a Chinese legal standpoint, a "crime of intentional injury."

But the case left many lawmakers and legal experts affected and perturbed, so much so that they appealed for a new law to be established — one that protects men as much as women, one that achieves true gender equality.

Chinese Criminal Law stipulates that women and girls are the main targets to be protected from being rape. According to 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."

"All of these terms deal with domestic rights protection only for women and girls. Men and boys are not included in the scope, and the gap should be filled in with corresponding, symmetrical regulations," advocated Wei Feng, a law professor from Southwest University of Political Science and Law and vice-director of Chongqing Exceedon and Partners Law Firm.

Wei expressed that the definition of rape in China with women as the main target was not applicable to modern society, as the evolution and development of sexuality — especially the discussion and study thereof — around the world have revealed new truths about orientation and, accordingly, about the potential victims of sexual violence. And so the wording, "go against women's will" in the Chinese-law definition is unsatisfactory in its inapplicability to all human beings.

"Rape should be defined as a type of sexual assault involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person, not limited to women, without the person's consent," appealed Wei.

In the recently held "Two Sessions" in Beijing, many National People's Congress (NPC) deputies and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) members implied that actual gender equality should be oriented to all human beings — not just women and girls, who have long been considered to be the naturally vulnerable groups in China.

"The existing regulation and definition of rape was formulated in 1979 and consequently is not adapted to the never-ending changes of Chinese society. A new regulation should be adopted to keep pace with the social trend," agreed Duan Maobing, an NPC deputy from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

In addition, experts advocated that legislation must also include women as the potential perpetrator of rape against other women and men, which is in contrast to the so-called "common sense" mentality that views men as the natural criminal in cases of rape.

Experience from Other Countries

Britain might be the first country in the world to have established an official law protecting males' rights in sexual relations or sexual assault.

In the UK's Sexual Offences Act 1956, "person" — not "women" — is the term to be used in references to the act of sexual assault. It provides that if A commits a sexual offence to B in any capacity without B's consent, A violates the criminal law of rape.

The United States has a similar regulation on rape.

Other European countries like German, France and Italy also have the same provisions on rape. They consider men and women to be equal in protection from sexual abuse or assault. Their rape regulations share the same features, that there is absolutely no difference between male and female in the consideration of victims or criminals — a lack of distinction that truly reflects gender equality.

(Source: news.china.com.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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Background
  • Legal Environment for Women and Children

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  • National Policy

    Lawyers and rights groups held a press conference in Beijing on December 15, 2014 to discuss their suggestions to help improve China’s new draft law on domestic violence.
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