In the past 20 days, Chinese media outlets have exposed seven cases of school-aged children being sexually molested or physically abused, with teachers or government officials the perpetrators in more than one of said incidents.
Following widespread outrage and protest among Chinese citizens, China’s supreme court has now ordered that harsher punishments be handed out to child abusers, according to the South China Morning Post.
The court publicized three cases yesterday in which harsher sentences were put into effect.
One included a 47 year old teacher who was executed for raping seven girls from 2009 to 2011.
The two other cases involved non-sexual offenses against children: a stepmother who tortured her five year old stepdaughter to death was given a suspended death sentence, and a man was given four years in jail for “instigating teenagers to steal”.
Xue Shulan, an associate supreme court judge, told China National Radio that teachers who sexually violated girls should be severely punished.
“All levels of people’s courts should step up punishment over crimes against minors, handing out death penalties to criminals who severely harm the rights of the under-aged,” Xue said. “There should be absolutely no mercy.”
One such case that triggered public outcry in May involved a primary school principal and a government official who lured six school girls into two hotels near Hainan before allegedly raping them.
Hainan police were accused of downplaying the case for saying the suspects did not have sex with the girls, even though forensic tests found otherwise. The principal had been charged with rape, Xinhua reported yesterday.
Last week, the girls’ parents appointed seven lawyers to sue the suspects, and they also pressed charges against the police for dereliction of duty.
But this week the parents decided against using the lawyers after they were stalked and warned about “making a big deal out of the incident”, local media reported yesterday.
Another instance, which took place only days later, involved a principal in Leizhou who reportedly turned himself in for raping two of his female students on repeated occasions.
In a Radio Free Asia report, one lawyer stated that some Chinese officials hold “a superstitious belief that sex with a virgin could boost their chances of promotion,” and that “a lot of officials do this as a pastime”.
Netizens across China have been carrying out protests against said teachers and officials through a series of online posts such as the one pictured below of a woman whose sign reads “Principal: [If you want to] go get a room, go with me”, according to Tea Leaf Nation.
The protest that began with Ye Haiyan’s posting of the image above, in which she exhorts the principal to go with her and not young children, sparked a round of similar posts and Photoshop jobs.
The campaign extended far beyond Ye’s photo. Minutes after she posted the image on Sina Weibo, her post received hundreds of replies, and others posted their own photos. The trend soon escalated into a full-scale act of protest against the recently reported incidents of child harassment by schoolteachers.
[By Katie Nelson // Image credit: Joe Gratz, Weibo]