Comparing Asia’s Giants on Rape

Didi Kirsten Tatlow at The New York Times has compared China and India in terms of rape. China and India are often compared as they are both ‘Asia’s giants,’ with over a billion people each, and are experiencing fast-paced economic growth:

In both countries recently, highly publicized gang rapes have dramatically raised public awareness of a hidden problem. Of course, rape is to some extent a hidden issue everywhere, even in societies with efficient legal systems and liberal attitudes toward women. But in China and India, as in other places where traditional notions may judge a raped woman as “ruined,” there are especially powerful disincentives to reporting the crime, experts say.

Here are the painful stories. On Dec. 16, a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi, the Indian capital, dying of her injuries two weeks later.

Few believe that’s the full extent of it, but the Chinese conviction figure is apparently higher than India’s. Women in China also experience far less sexual harassment in public, or “Eve teasing,” as it’s known in India.

Privately, researchers confide they have no idea what the real number of rapes is. Some estimate that less than one in 10 cases is reported. That might make at least a quarter of a million a year in China, but probably far more. In the United States, with less than a quarter of China’s population, Census Bureau figures show a fairly consistent rate of “forcible rape” (excluding statutory rape) of just over 80,000 a year over the last decade.

CDT previously reported on the detention of Li Guanfeng, son of People’s Liberation Army General and renowned singer, Li Shuangjiang, for his alleged involvement in a gang rape case. In response to this case, the Global Times published two commentaries: Freelance columnist Lian Peng claims there needs to be a fundamental cure for society by strengthening the law, while Xiao Baiyou,  “Wolf Dad,” says parents need to be stricter with their children. Lian Peng says:

On the one hand, the case mirrors social hatred toward officials and the rich. These deeply rooted social conflicts are worth pondering. There are too many cases in which the privileged are seen to fly above the law. People worry that if they do not strongly condemn this action, Li Tianyi might receive a lighter sentence or even escape legal punishment altogether.

If social order and justice are not done and crimes are not punished, the psychology of the people will be gradually distorted and social conflicts and hatred will spread. But the very first step is to practically restore the dignity of the law. Under this circumstance, a spirit of social tolerance, sympathy and understanding can return.

While Xiao Baiyou comments on parents’ responsibility:

This largely relates to poor family education. Because of unreasonable parental discipline, they go astray. Some among these groups despise the law, because they believe they are privileged and can easily escape from legal punishment.

I can responsibly say that if I was allowed to teach Li Tianyi from today on, I would return the Li couple a well-disciplined son who would have learned from his crimes.

Read more about China-India comparisons, via CDT.


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