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2021

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Legal Sheng Bang Lawyer Talks (Summer Series) | Huang Jingyi: How to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Children

Recently, a property owner in a community in Chengdu, Sichuan revealed that multiple girls in the community were suspected of being molested by a boy, sparking a heated discussion among netizens. With the development of the media industry and the liberation of the mind, the exposure rate of cases of child sexual assault has significantly increased.


Recently, a property owner in a community in Chengdu, Sichuan revealed that multiple girls in the community were suspected of being molested by a boy, sparking a heated discussion among netizens. With the development of the media industry and the liberation of the mind, the exposure rate of cases of child sexual assault has significantly increased.

 

Child sexual assault refers to the use of violence, deception, material inducement, flattery, or other means by the perpetrator to induce children to engage in sexual activity in order to satisfy sexual desires or other purposes. There are various forms of child sexual assault, including physical and non physical contact.

 

According to the "Girls' Protection" 2020 Sexual Abuse Case Statistics and Child Prevention Education Survey Report (hereinafter referred to as the "Girls' Protection Report") jointly released by the Girls' Protection Fund of the China Youth and Children's Cultural and Art Foundation and the Beijing Unity Foundation, there were 332 publicly reported cases of sexual assault on children (under the age of 18) in the media throughout 2020, with 845 victims and the youngest being 1 year old. Among the cases of sexual assault, girls account for 90%, boys account for 10%, and children of primary and middle school age have a high proportion of victims. Nearly 70% of them are urban children, while rural children account for 30%. Special attention should be paid to the fact that left behind girls are becoming a high-risk area for sexual abuse.

 

According to data, from 2017 to 2018 alone, more than 2500 girls in Guangdong were sexually assaulted, nearly half of whom were under the age of 14. Moreover, 65.74% of those who sexually assaulted girls were acquaintances, and half of the left behind children who were violated. Although the public's attention to child sexual assault has significantly increased, there are still many people who do not know how to respond to and handle incidents of child sexual assault.

 

When it comes to child sexual assault, it has to be said that Taiwanese writer Lin Yihan. A girl with excellent academic character and good background was seduced by her teacher while taking makeup classes, and later developed a serious mental illness. Later, in pain, she wrote her autobiographical novel "Fang Siqi's First Love Paradise". Three months after the publication of this book, just one year after her marriage, she committed suicide and left the world. The harm of child sexual assault is far beyond our imagination, 'what has been inserted will not be extracted'.

 

Through the analysis of big data, we have learned that cases of child sexual assault often have the following characteristics:

 

1. Most of the crimes were committed by acquaintances.

According to the Girls' Protection Report, the crime rate of acquaintances exceeds 70%, and the exposure of sexual assault cases by family members has significantly increased. A considerable number of cases of child sexual assault occur in the victim's home, even when the guardian is at home. Due to familiarity, children often think that this is the intimacy of their elders and do not know how to refuse.

 

2. Boys can also become targets of sexual assault.

The girl protection report shows that 10% of the victims are boys. Many male parents have a mentality of taking chances and believe that boys will not be the target of aggression, which is completely wrong. Although the proportion is small, once it happens, it will cause irreparable consequences.

 

3. Most cases are not discovered in a timely manner.

The child has emotional and physical abnormalities, but they have not received timely attention from parents. By the time parents become aware, sexual assault may have occurred multiple times.

 

4. The number of cases caused by online dating is increasing year by year.

According to the report on the protection of girls, there have been 42 cases of crimes committed by netizens, including online and offline crimes (where netizens commit sexual assault after meeting), accounting for 18.18% of the crimes committed by acquaintances (circle of acquaintances) and 12.65% of the total number of cases. The use of online sexual assault cases is highly covert, and it is generally not easy for parents to detect them. Minors, due to their fear, often do not proactively inform their parents even if they discover that they have been harmed. Among the discovered cases of online sexual assault on children, dozens of people are often victimized in one case.

 

There are various reasons for children's sexual assault, but the lack of sex education plays a crucial role.

 

In "Fang Siqi's First Love Paradise", there is a passage:

 

Siqi casually asked her mother, "Our home seems to have everything, but there is no sex education

 

My mother looked strange, even a bit blaming, and replied, "What kind of sex education? Sex education is for those who need sex, isn't that what sex education is all about

 

Siqi understood for a moment that in this story, her parents would be absent forever. They were absent from school, but they thought they hadn't started yet.

 

Many families in China have not created a good enough family atmosphere, and they are even more secretive about sex. Most parents only stop telling their children that their private parts should not be touched by others. In addition, sharing other sexual knowledge to their children may feel awkward, but this phenomenon is not conducive to preventing sexual assault. Even parents cannot talk openly about "sex", and children are even more hesitant to speak up when encountering similar situations, leading to missing the best time for relief. Not to mention, some parents may hesitate to report to the police for the sake of "face" or have already missed the best time for obtaining evidence when reporting to the police. One of the reasons for the low reporting rate is that underage individuals are more willing to inform trusted third parties rather than their own parents after being violated.

 

We strongly recommend that family education, especially sexual education and self-protection awareness education for children, should also closely follow suit:

 

1. Parents should be good at identifying potential signs of sexual assault, such as:

 

Redness and swelling of reproductive organs, urethritis; Irritability, abdominal pain, headache; Mindless and fearful; Depression, timidity, avoidance of topics; Sexual related behaviors or language that do not match age.

 

2. Help children establish gender boundaries as early as possible, such as clarifying the differences between male and female toilets.

 

3. Provide proactive preventive education for children, not treating 'sex' as a sensitive topic between parents and children, create a good family atmosphere, encourage children to dare to say 'sex', and even dare to say 'no' to physical contact that makes them feel uncomfortable.

 

4. When sexual assault incidents occur or are suspected to occur, it is necessary to report to the police and collect evidence in a timely manner, conduct physical examinations and treatment for children in a timely manner, seek professional psychological counseling, and seek help from various sectors of society.

 

In fact, in China's legislation, corresponding legal protection has been provided for children who have been sexually assaulted. In addition to the traditional criminal offenses of indecent assault on children and rape, the "Amendment (11) to the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China" (hereinafter referred to as the "Amendment (11)") has added the crime of sexual assault by personnel responsible for taking care of them.

 

According to Article 236 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the "Criminal Law"), "Whoever rapes a woman through violence, coercion, or other means shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than ten years. Whoever rapes a young girl under the age of fourteen shall be considered as rape and given a heavier punishment." According to Chinese law, the object of the crime of indecent assault on children is boys and girls under the age of fourteen. Therefore, children under the age of 14 do not have the right to sexual consent. As long as they have sexual relations with children under the age of 14, regardless of whether the parties agree or not, it will violate China's criminal law.

 

Although it is regrettable that men have never been the target of rape in our country, so when a boy is sexually assaulted, the offender can only be convicted and punished for the crime of indecent assault on children. However, the protection of minors in China's legislation has always been progressive, as evidenced by the addition of the crime of sexual assault by personnel responsible for caregiving in the Criminal Law Amendment (11), which was officially implemented on March 1, 2021.

 

Article 236-1 of the Amendment to the Criminal Law (11) [Sexual assault by persons responsible for taking care of women] Any person who has special responsibilities such as guardianship, adoption, care, education, medical treatment, etc. with a female underage who has reached the age of fourteen but not sixteen, and has sexual relations with the female underage, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years; If the circumstances are serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than ten years.

 

If the act mentioned in the preceding paragraph constitutes a crime as stipulated in Article 236 of this Law, the offender shall be convicted and punished in accordance with the provisions of the heavier punishment.

 

On June 1, 2021, the newly revised "Law on the Protection of Minors" came into effect. On the same day, the Ministry of Education issued the "Regulations on the Protection of Minors in Schools", which will come into effect on September 1st. Both explicitly require schools and kindergartens to include sex education in compulsory education, to enhance students' self-protection awareness and ability to prevent sexual assault and harassment. In addition, the revised "Law on the Protection of Minors" also has the following highlights:

 

1. Establish a mandatory reporting system for schools, hotels, hotels, and other accommodation operators who discover violations of minors' rights and interests, as well as an admission qualification system for personnel in close contact with minors in the industry.

 

2. The revised "Law on the Protection of Minors" defines student bullying for the first time and clarifies the prevention, control, and disposal mechanisms of schools in student bullying and campus sexual assault.

 

3. We have paid attention to the lack of guardianship for left behind children in rural areas and improved the system of entrusted care. In addition to parents and legal guardians, schools, neighborhood committees, village committee members, and people's governments at all levels also bear corresponding responsibilities.

 

Nowadays, more and more people in society and the media are also committed to preventing child sexual assault. For example, in the first case of the variety show "Star Detective Season 6", the issue of child sexual assault was focused on. The final speech of guest Yang Rong deeply shocked the audience. Singer Taiyi sang in "Growing Up with a Weight of Ten Thousand catties": "Humans, intentionally, why are you impartial and choose me...".

 

Children are the flowers of our motherland, and we all have a responsibility to prevent sexual abuse by children. We hope that all children can grow up healthy, and we also hope that all children who have been illegally violated can overcome their nightmares and restart their lives as they wish. This is everyone's hope and requires everyone's joint efforts.