By Patrick Lozada and James Griffiths
Image credit: James Griffiths
Shanghaiist recently released a story highlighting the findings of a report that found that around 50 percent of Chinese men admit to sexually assaulting* their partners. Our story was met with a lot of hostility and skepticism by several commenters who alleged that we were spreading “more propaganda against Asian males” (never mind that the survey was carried out by Chinese researchers) and that the findings were “a hatchet job at best”.
Personally, we think such a reaction is uninformed at best and sexist ignorance at worst.
Around the world, rape and sexual assault are a reality that women face on a daily basis. In the United States, one in five women are sexually assaulted, according to the New York Times. Globally, the trend is even more marked. A WHO multi-country study found that between 15-71 percent of women aged 15-49 years reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
This is some serious shit.
In this global context, the figures on China are alarming but (depressingly) consistent with established trends of endemic sexual violence. We’re not trying to say that you shouldn’t be skeptical of statistics you see. Skepticism is good, and this case maybe even merited. Some of the findings our original piece was based on were presented at a UN panel and contained interviews with over 2,000 men, but full paper is not available online. Nonetheless, the findings, which correlate with previous studies by Chinese and international researchers, deserve actual investigation and questioning instead of derisive dismissal from the all-male cast of disbelieving commenters who weighed in on our previous article.
Finally, much of the pushback against the original post seemed to be based on a misconception of what the reality of rape is. While rape is a violent crime for sure, it differs from say mugging in that people are very rarely mugged by their friends or lovers. According to RAINN, an American non-profit, 73 percent of sexual assaults in the US are carried out by someone known to the victim, 28 percent of rapes are by an intimate partner. China currently has no laws against marital rape, and inter-relationship sexual assault is likely a major contributor to the findings we highlighted.
In publishing our original post, and this follow up, we are not seeking to demonise Chinese men. Rape and domestic violence are prevalent in almost all countries, where China differs however is in its lack of protection for victims and punishment for perpetrators. Even India, the site of several recent horrific gang rapes has stronger domestic violence legislation than China (though it still has a long, long way to go). Domestic violence is a serious issue in China, but one that the government has long dragged its heals on and shown little inclination to deal with.
*The terminology in the survey was ‘forcing a partner into sex’, which is clearly sexual assault in our book and anyone who thinks otherwise is being wilfully obtuse.