Here is a list no one wants to be on. A teacher in Changsha, surnamed Xu, has been arrested for molesting children whom he tutored after class hours. The name of school has not been released.
In the last month, this brings the number of molestation or rape charges brought about by students against teachers to at least ten. Teachers have been charged in Shenzhen, Henan, Leizhou, Hainan, and a foreign teacher was charged in Shanghai.
The surge in molestation reports are causing a lot of outrage and discussion around the country regarding child safety and rape laws. While assault of children by foreign teachers is rare, the laws regarding background checks for them are usually ignored so it would be easy for someone with a history of being a sex offender to find work in a Chinese school.
But some of the bigger issues are regarding rape laws in China and the placement of responsibility and shame with victims. While the penalty for rape in China is more severe than in most countries (it can carry the death penalty) it is much easier for the accused to escape charges. The age of consent in China is only 14, but a man can avoid statutory rape charges if he simply says 1) I didn’t know she was under 14, and 2) she consented at the time. The charge can also be dropped if the man claims he gave the victim money.
Across the country, parents are trying to find ways to protect their children. 18 elementary schools in Shanghai have started courses on “self-protection” to teach children to be aware of possible warning signs even from people they know. While this is a good measure, some parents are going to the extreme in putting the burden of not being a victim on the children. One mother said “I often teach my child preventive measures, tell her not to wear skimpy clothes.” She also said “the weather is hot, but children should wear protective clothes to reduce the risk (of being sexually abused) as much as they can.” Several mothers “who requested anonymity said they have purchased pants for their children to wear under their skirts, as well as thick vests.” Sadly, this mother doesn’t seem to realize that a piece of clothing isn’t going to stop someone intent on getting sexual gratification from a child.
While it is a good thing that more children are learning to speak out when they are assaulted, the numbers are still largely skewed. As in most countries, the vast majority of rapes and molestations go unreported for fear of shame. It is even worse in China’s rural areas where children are given no sexual education courses (though, even in China’s larger cities, sexual education is far from adequate). The antiquated view that sex education encourages promiscuity is continuing to harm children around the world. Education is the best protection, not a pair of pants.