Women who smoke, drink and dress provocatively are more likely to be raped, a court in China has concluded, drawing ridicule from Web users.
After a review of 162 defendants in 151 rape cases over the past three years, Haidian district court in Beijing put the onus on women to change their habits rather than on the attackers -- who were described by the court as youths whose sexual needs were not being satisfied and didn’t know any better.
The mocking backlash on the Internet is the latest glimpse into China's parallel worlds: Old-style official pronouncements and often feisty dissent online.
“Some victims have bad habits such as smoking and drinking,” the court said. “Defendants easily target these people, based on the habitual perception that victims who smoke and drink, especially victims who are drunk, could easily become targets.” What it didn't note: that smoking and drinking are far from fringe activities in Chinese culture, although more common and generally seen as more socially acceptable for men.
Some women who were raped, the court went on, “had an open sexual attitude and didn’t take protective measures when men made advances.”
Meanwhile many defendants confessed that “criminal intent arose when they saw that the victims were young, beautiful and dressed revealingly,” the court said in an article published on its social media accounts.
Earlier this year, a police bureau in the central city of Wuhan suggested on its Sina Weibo microblogging account that “being ugly is the safest way” to avoid getting raped.
The court in in Beijing also appeared to blame women for being too “bold” in meeting with people they barely know or have only chatted with online.
In almost half of the cases, the offender was a coworker, friend or client, the court said. But instead of suggesting workplace harassment education for the offenders, the court concluded that rape occurred because the women failed to reject the offenders right from the beginning, causing misunderstandings.
The court found that 64 percent of the offenders were between the ages of 18 and 30, who “due to physical reasons had strong physical needs” but were “repressed.” These men were mostly from out of town, either single or married but not living together with their spouses, and therefore their needs couldn’t be “satisfied normally.”
Over half of the defendants didn’t have stable jobs or income and rarely spend what they do earn on activities to enrich their spiritual life, the court concluded. The numbers also showed that most offenders were not well educated and had little legal awareness.
There have been many similar campaigns in the past -- sometimes with pushback. In 2012, two women in Shanghai started a campaign called “I can flirt but you can’t disturb” in protest after local subway authorities reminded women not to invite sexual harassment by dressing provocatively.
But when a group of women tried to hand out stickers and posters to raise awareness against sexual harassment this year, they were arrested. The five activists -- who had spoken up for victims of domestic violence victims, and for gay rights and gender equality -- were held for more than a month in detention and only released after an international uproar.
Web users responded with ridicule. One user asked, “So there won’t be any rape after a woman quits drinking and smoking?”
Another Web user commented, "Those with hair are more likely to be sexually assaulted than those with no hair; those with teeth are more likely to be sexually assaulted than those who don't have teeth.
“But most importantly, women who are alive are way more likely to be sexually assaulted than female corpses. So out of self-love and self-protection, we have to drop dead."