There was a disturbing story today about how a man’s rapist was basically given a get-out-of-jail-free card on a technicality. That technicality? The fact that male-on-male rape is not considered a crime in China. Rape is one of the most common crimes in China, but it is also one of the most under-reported. China also has some of the weakest rape laws in the world, and the penalties (only 3-10 years in prison, if that) are pitiful. China does not report statistics on rape, so we have no idea just how many rapes happen every year, but even if the government did report the numbers, there is such a negative social stigma attached to it, the numbers would be much too low.
China does not recognize same-sex rape, for men or women. It does not recognize male rape victims even if the rapist is a woman. It does not recognize marital rape. In fact, even between people who are just dating, a woman would find it nearly impossible to charge her boyfriend with rape. Even in public, if a man is seen assaulting a woman, people will generally just walk by and ignore it, assuming it is a private issue. And child rape laws are so fuzzy and misapplied that child rapists often receive simply a slap on the wrist.
Believe it or not, male rape is a feminist issue. Feminism isn’t about only empowering women, but about gender equality, and that means acknowledging the strengths and vulnerabilities of everyone and recognizing everyone’s need for protection and respect. When it comes to eliminating patriarchal limits, the way male rape is handled is an important part. Men can be victims too, but when they report that they are victims of rape or domestic violence, they are often ignored or even laughed at.
The really strange part about this issue in China, though, is how before 1997, male rape was recognized and illegal. But when China went through a legal reform in 1997, the definition of rape was rewritten to only include assault against women and girls. This is especially scary when it comes to male children since boys are 2.7% more likely to be sexually abused than female children.
The 1997 legal “reform” in China was a huge step in the wrong direction. It eliminated and hope of protection or justice for men and boys and also created a loophole for rapist of female children by creating a distinction between child “rape” and child “prostitution. China needs to immediately reform its reformed law so that all Chinese citizens, male, female, adult, and child, can receive equal protection under the law.