Sex case takes a new turn

By He Na, Wu Wencong and Hu Yongqi ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-05-16 09:31:18

Sex case takes a new turn

Pupils stand outside Wanning No 2 Primary School in Hainan province, whose principal has been charged with sexual assaults on minors. [Photo by Hai Nan / for China Daily]

Uproar caused in island province, report He Na, Wu Wencong and Hu Yongqi in Beijing.

When police in Hainan province arrested two men on charges of sexually assaulting minors, they believed they were dealing with an open-and-shut case.

However, the incident took a bizarre twist on Tuesday, amid claim and counterclaim concerning the girls' status as virgins, when the results of forensic examinations on four of the six girls were released via the police micro blog.

The examinations, conducted on Monday by a medical expert from the Hainan Provincial Public Security Bureau and doctors from the obstetrics and gynecology department at Wanning People's Hospital, concluded that the girls' hymens were still intact.

The news caused uproar in the island province.

The girls' parents refused to accept the results, and claimed that tests conducted by different experts at the same hospital on Friday had indicated genital bruising and that the girls' hymens had been ruptured.

The background

The story began last week when Chen Zaipeng, the principal of Wanning No 2 Primary School, and Feng Xiaosong, who works for the Wanning city housing authority, were arrested and charged with child molestation after six girls, aged 11 to 13, claimed they had been sexually abused.

The girls, who had been missing for two days, were eventually located after police and parents arranged a search party to comb the area.

The details remain sketchy, but the police allege that four of the girls accompanied Chen to a hotel in Wanning, a claim backed up by security footage, while Feng is alleged to have taken the other two to a hotel in the provincial capital, Haikou.

The police said the two men were not acquainted and were unable to explain why the girls accompanied Chen and Feng, apparently of their own volition.

The incident triggered a national outcry in China and quickly became a hot topic on social media Internet platforms as netizens debated the case itself and whether China's laws on rape are fit for purpose.

In the wake of the incident, experts warned that the definition of rape under Chinese criminal law is too narrow. Only nonconsensual vaginal intercourse between adults or genital contact with a girl aged 14 or younger constitutes rape, and these acts are often difficult to prove.

"In many cases, the prosecution has been unable to prove rape or assault in court because of the difficulty of providing compelling evidence. A much wider definition of rape and sexual intercourse must be accepted by the legal establishment and the public, as has already happened in many other countries," said Liu Baiju, a professor of law at the Scientific Research Management Bureau of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He said that only nonconsensual vaginal intercourse between a male and female is deemed to be full rape, while other nonconsensual acts such as anal or oral sex are defined as molestation. That definition meant that the initial investigation conducted by Wanning police concluded that the girls had not been raped, but they had been sexually molested.

One of the girls who spent the night with Chen said he committed intimate acts with her, but the girls who shared a room with Feng denied that he had committed any indecent acts on them, according to the Wanning police.

"More than 90 percent of Wanning city residents don't believe the results of the investigation. On the Wanning Online website, thousands of locals said they opposed the way the incident has been dealt with," said Li Min who runs the portal.

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