About the Xishui child rape scandal - Part 1

Travelling back to the South of Italy on my Easter holiday, I found this comment by a reader from Shanghai


So I decided to follow this trial to see if the court will use the loopholes which exist in the Criminal Law to hand a mitigated punishment to those involved in the Xishui pedophily case.

The Xishui child rape trial begun yesterday. (below: picture of the Xishui court)

The case was cracked in October 2008, and twenty-one suspects were arrested. 10 men who bought sexual services from children forced into prostitution received public security punishments, 1 prostitute received "education" from the police, two organizers of the child prostitution ring were held in a juvenile detention centre.

Yuan Li (袁莉 female, 28 also known as 袁荣会 Yuan Ronghui) - the organizer of the prostitution ring - was indicted on charges of forcing, harboring and introducing prostitution (art. 358 强迫、容留、介绍妇女卖淫罪).

Seven more people were indicted on charges of visiting prostitutes under 14 years of age (art. 360 (2) 嫖宿幼女罪) They are:

Feng Zhiyang (43, schoolteacher)
Li Shouming (47, director of the county migration office)
Chen Mengran (27, director of the office of land resources)
Huang Yongliang (28, social security office)
Chen Cun (38, office of justice)
Mu Mingzhong (delegate to the local people's congress and manager of a real estate company)
Feng Yong (taxi driver)

They stood trial in Xishui county (Guizhou province) yesterday.

A first problem in this case are the charges on which the five officials, the taxi driver and the teacher were indicted.

If found guilty of visiting prostitutes under 14 years of age, the maximum penalty the seven suspects could receive would be of "five years or more fixed term imprisonment and a fine". Their maximum term of imprisonment would not exceed 15 years.

If charged with rape (art. 236), the seven suspects could receive punishments ranging from 10 years imprisonment to the death penalty.

As mentioned by this article, the defendants were charged with visiting prostitutes, rather than with rape. Public security organs and the prosecutors reasoned that the officials offered money in exchange for the sexual services they received. Also, they knew that the prostitutes they visited were younger than fourteen. So, based on this judicial interpretation, they held the officials were suspected of visiting prostitutes.

The defendants had to be charged with rape instead. Because:

  • Article 236 (2) defines as rape any sexual intercourse involving a person under the age of fourteen.
  • A 2003 judicial interpretation (最高人民法院关于行为人不明知是不满十四周岁的幼女,双方自愿发生性关系是否构成强奸罪问题的批复) specifies that any sexual intercourse involving a person under the age of 14 is considered rape even it was consensual. An important condition is that the other party must know that they had intercourse with a person under 14.
  • Intercourse was non-consensual: Yuan Li and her accomplices had to beat and threaten the girls to persuade them to receive their "customers".
  • In similar cases, suspects are normally charged with rape (See 教育部、公安部、司法部关于辽宁等地相继发生教师强奸猥亵学生事件的情况通报 mentioning just a few precedents)