‘Rape on a Whim’? New Catchphrase Raises Ire

In a court ruling by Nanxun Court in Huzhou City, Zhejiang province, a rape committed by two police associates has been ruled as 临时性的即意犯罪, or an unpremeditated crime, also translated as “temporary crime on a whim” by Jessie of chinaSMACK.

ChinaHush provides background and details on the incident. Key’s translated China News Net report:

October 29, 2009 China News reported two police associates, being part of the law enforcement knowingly violated the law. They raped a woman while she was drunk and passed out in a hotel. Eventually they could not escape from the moral and legal punishment. Today Zhejiang Huzou Nanxun court came to a first instance verdict. Two defendants were sentenced to three years in prison.

Evening of June 10, 2009, two police associates, Qiu (邱) and Cai (蔡) brought Chen (陈) and Shen (沈) who just finished with their college entrance exam to dinner. During dinner, four of them drank a lot of alcohol. Chen had low tolerance, after dinner she was already passed out. In order to let her sober up, Cai drove his car and took everyone to a hotel. In the hotel room, two police associates took advantage of Chen being drunk and unconscious, unable to resist, forced sexual intercourse with her one after another. When Chen regained her consciousness, she found herself lying in bed in a hotel room, her lower body naked.

Nanxun court considered the crime facts, taking into accounts that the two temporarily committed crime, with no prior planning, also turned themselves in willingly afterwards, and was forgiven by the victim, therefore giving lighter sentences of three years in prison. The two defendants being part of the law enforcement knowingly violated the law, but eventually ate their own bitter fruit.

From Ellen Zhu of Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report:

Critical Chinese Internet users soon delved into the meaning of “temporary” as used by the court. It “stands for informal and short-term behavior,” wrote one online commenter. “So is there a difference between formal and informal, long-term and short-term when it comes to the crime of rape? …What does it mean to describe a crime as temporary, fixed or permanent?” Within a few days, “temporary rape” has become one of the most debated topics on the Internet. On Tianya, one of China’s largest Web forums, one discussion of the case has drawn nearly 8,000 participants and garnered close to a million page views.

Chinese media also weighed in with sharply worded commentaries. “The various online catchphrases all convey the same anxiety about justice. A lack of trust in the judicial system always emerges through some individual cases that go beyond common sense,” said an article in the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News (in Chinese).

So far, the majority of the online posts and media opinions have taken a negative tone toward the court’s reasoning. People are also adding “temporary” to other words to highlight the twisted logic involved. Examples include “temporary bribery taking,” “temporary murder” and “temporary divorce, no asset separation.”

Jessie of chinaSMACK translates opinions from legal experts:

Lawyer Li said that the “temporary crime on a whim” is an opposite concept to a premeditated crime. Premeditated crimes cause more damage to the society. Premeditated criminals would think of a good way out, meanwhile “temporary criminals” don’t. “Temporary crime on a whim” leads to smaller harm, so the crime can be judged lighter.

However, a judge from another court in Hangzhou has a different view. The judge, who requested anonymity, claimed in the interview that although there are premeditated crimes, not premeditated crimes, conspiracy, complicity and surrender in criminal law, there is no “temporary crime on a whim’ or “active surrender”. The “temporary crime on a whim” seems newly created.

The judge further questioned the most confusing thing: that when two criminals successively rape the victim, it is typically gang rape.

If the case were identified as gang rape, according to “The People’s Republic of China Criminal Law” clause 236, item 3, article 4 “where two or more people gang rape a girl,” they should be sentenced to more than a decade in prison, life imprisonment or death, which has a significant difference from their three-year term.

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